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Module de chirurgie vitale: Bilan

Deployment of the Surgical Life-saving Module (SLM) in 2017: lessons learned in setting up and training operational surgical units

Malgras B et Al.


The military operations carried out by the French armed forces, occasionally require the use of the Surgical Life-saving Module (SLM), to ensure the surgical support of its soldiers. Due to its extreme mobility and capacity of fast deployment, SLM is particularly useful in small-scale military operations, such as Special Forces missions. In 2017, the French SLM was for the first time used to ensure surgical support of allied forces, which were lacking forward surgical capabilities.

Materials and Methods: the SLM is a mobile, heliborne, airborne, surgical structure with parachuting capability onto land or sea, therefore essentially focused on life-saving procedures, also known as "damage control" surgery. Due to the need for mobility and rapid implementation, the SLM is limited to a maximum of 5 interventions or, in terms of injuries, to 1 or 2 seriously injured patients.


Over a period of 2 months, 5 medical teams were successively deployed with the SLM. A total of 157 casualties were treated. The most common injuries were caused by shrapnel 561%), followed by firearms (36%), and blunt trauma (2.5%). Injuries included the limbs (56%), thorax (18%), abdomen (13%), head (11%), and neck (2%). The average ISS was 8.5 (1-25) with 26 patients presenting with an ISS greater than or equal to 15. The average NISS was 10.8 (1-75) with 34 casualties having an NISS equal to or greater than 15. The surgical procedures were broken down as follows: 126 dressings, 16 laparotomies, 7 thoracotomies, 12 isolated thoracic drains (without thoracotomy), 1 cervicotomy, 12 amputations, 7 limb splints, 2 limb fasciotomies, 2 external fixators and 1 femoral fracture traction.


The numerous SLM deployments in larger operations highlighted its ability to adapt both in terms of equipment and personnel. Continuous management of equipment logistics, robust personnel training, and appropriate organization of the evacuation procedures, were the key elements for optimizing combat casualty care. As a consequence, the SLM appears to be an operational surgical unit of choice during deployments.

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