Body Armor Protects Soldiers Against Kidney Damage

Study of Operation Iraqi Freedom casualties shows genitourinary injuries lower in those wearing body armor

THURSDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- While the incidence of genitourinary injuries among soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom are similar to other conflicts, the use of body armor significantly reduces the risk of these injuries, especially those involving the kidney, according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of Urology.

Edmond Paquette, M.D., from Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C., used data in the Joint Theater Trauma Registry to conduct a retrospective analysis of 2,712 admissions to the U.S. Army Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, from April 2005 through February 2006. Overall, 1,216 casualties were wearing body armor.

Paquette found that 2.8 percent of all casualties had one or more genitourinary injuries, which is in line with those incidences reported for previous conflicts, ranging from 0.5 to 4.2 percent. However, those casualties wearing body armor had a lower rate of genitourinary injuries overall (2.1 versus 3.4 percent), and kidney injuries specifically (0.5 versus 1.4 percent), than those who were not wearing armor.

"The renal salvage rate was lower than in previous conflicts due to multiple factors unique to Operation Iraqi Freedom," Paquette writes. "To our knowledge, this is the first study in the literature to demonstrate the effectiveness of body armor in protecting against genitourinary injury," he adds.

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