Experience of an Orthoplastic Limb Salvage Team after the Haiti Earthquake: Analysis of Caseload and Early Outcomes

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Background:After the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, a British orthoplastic limb salvage team was mobilized. The team operated in a suburb of Port-au-Prince from January 20, 2010. This analysis gives an overview of the caseload and early outcomes.Methods:A retrospective analysis of operative data from the log book was performed from the opening of the facility on January 20, 2010, until March 12, 2010.Results:In total, 348 operations were carried out on 158 patients, at an average of 47 cases per week. Seventy-three percent of the cases were soft-tissue cases and 25 percent were bony or combined soft-tissue and bony cases. The majority of bony procedures (n = 26; 16 percent) and flap procedures (n = 16; 10 percent) took place in the early weeks (weeks 1 through 4). Combined orthoplastic cases accounted for 37 percent of cases (16 of 44) in week 2 but only 7 percent (three of 43) in week 7. General anesthetic cases accounted for 89 percent of cases (39 of 44) in week 2 but only 40 percent (17 of 43) in week 7. Only six patients (4 percent) underwent amputation, but 36 operations (10 percent) dealt with the sequelae of amputation. Sixteen patients (10 percent) suffered complications, including two amputations for failed limb salvage.Conclusions:This article reports the outcomes of a limb salvage team in the acute response after an earthquake disaster with a favorable amputation rate and highlights the potential benefit of mobilizing this type of team. Detailing the changing caseload over time will allow for more efficient planning in case of a similar future disaster.

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