The prominent role of plastic surgery in the Wenchuan earthquake disaster.


BACKGROUND : On May 12, 2008, an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 on Richter scale struck Sichuan Province of China and destroyed Wenchuan County. Two days later, a field hospital from the Second Military Medical University (Shanghai, China) arrived at Anxian County near the epicenter as a reinforcement hospital before rehabilitation of the local medical facilities. Surgical services in the field hospital were supplied by general, orthopedic, plastic, anesthetic, obstetrical surgeons, and two physicians. The plastic surgeons were responsible for assessment of all soft tissue injuries at the hospital and patient needs for plastic surgery services in a crisis intervention field hospital. METHODS : Information was gathered regarding soft tissue injuries throughout the activities of the hospital. In addition, patient charts, operation reports, and entry and evacuation logs were reviewed for all patients who were admitted and treated in the field hospital. RESULTS : Of 1,013 patients who were treated in the field hospital in Wenchuan; 102 (10.07%) sought aid for soft tissue injuries, all of which were earthquake related. Twenty-one percent of the operations performed in the hospital were concerned with the treatment of soft tissue injuries, and 15% of the hospital beds were reserved for plastic surgery patients. CONCLUSION : Plastic surgery services at a field hospital play a prominent and irreplaceable role in rescuing casualties in formidable conditions especially in a serious earthquake situation.


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