Introduction: Non-battle injuries (NBIs) can be a source of significant resource utilization for the armed forces in a deployed setting. While the incidence and severity of craniomaxillofacial (CMF) battle injuries (BIs) have reportedly increased in the ongoing U.S. military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the prevalence and the nature of NBIs are not well described. Material and methods: The Joint Theater Trauma Registry was queried from October 2001 to February 2011, covering Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, for both NBIs and BIs to the CMF region. Patient demographics, injury severity score, mechanism and type of injury were included in the query. Using ICD-9 diagnosis codes, CMF injuries were classified according to type (wounds, fractures, burns, vascular injuries, and nerve injuries). Statistical analysis was performed for comparative analysis. Results: NBIs constituted 24.3% of all patients with CMF injuries evacuated to a regional combat support hospital (CMF BIs 75.4%). These injuries were characterized by blunt trauma, most commonly motor vehicle collisions (37%), and falls (20%). As compared to CMF BIs, CMF NBIs resulted in less mortality (1.3% vs. 3.1%, p < 0.0001), fewer injuries per patient (1.87 vs. 2.26, p = 0.055), and a decreased severity score (ISS) (8.38 vs. 12.98, p < 0.0001). However, a significant percentage of CMF NBIs still required evacuation out of theater (27.8% of NBIs vs. 42.2% of BIs, p < 0.0001), depleting the combat strength of the deployed forces. Conclusions: CMF NBIs accounted for a substantial portion of total CMF injuries. Though characterized predominantly by blunt trauma with an overall better prognosis, its burden to the limited resources of a deployment can be significant. This descriptive study highlights the need to allocate appropriate resources for treatment of these injuries as well as strategies to reduce both its incidence and severity. Level of evidence: IV Prognostic © 2013 European Association for Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Surgery. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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