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Soldiers' Eardrum Perforation Linked to Brain Injury

Study of blast-injury survivors shows association between perforation and unconsciousness

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Eardrum perforation is a significant marker of concussive brain injury in U.S. soldiers who are exposed to explosive devices in Iraq, according to a letter published in the Aug. 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Michael S. Xydakis, M.D., Lt. Col., of the Air Force Theater Hospital, Balad Air Base in Iraq, and colleagues evaluated 210 male blast-injury survivors who were evaluated for tympanic-membrane perforation and loss of consciousness.

Xydakis and colleagues found that the overall incidences of tympanic-membrane perforation and loss of consciousness were 35.2 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively, and that the two factors were strongly associated (relative risk, 2.76).

"Our observation that there was a significant association between barotraumatic tympanic-membrane perforation and concussive brain injury suggests that physicians who are treating blast survivors with tympanic-membrane perforation need to have a high index of suspicion for concomitant neurologic injury," the authors conclude.

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