An analysis of the incidence of hypothermia in casualties presenting to emergency departments in Iraq and Afghanistan

Andrew D. Fisher, Michael D. April, Steven G. Schauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Hypothermia on the battlefield has been shown to be associated with severe injury and higher mortality. The incidence of battlefield casualties presenting with hypothermia are described. Methods: The Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DoDTR) was queried from January 2007 to August 2016. We identified casualties with a documented temperature of <32°Celsius (C) (severe), 32–33.9 °C (moderate), 34–36 °C (mild). We defined serious injuries as those resulting in an AIS of ≥3 by body region. Results: There were 25,484 records with at least one documented temperature and 2501 (9.8%) casualties with hypothermia within our range. Nineteen (0.75%) casualties presented with severe hypothermia, 225 (9%) with moderate, and 2257 (90%) with mild. The mean injury severity score (ISS) for non-hypothermic, mild, moderate, and severe hypothermic casualties was 8 [4–14], 14 [6–24], 21 [13–29], and 21 [9–25], (p <0.001), respectively. Survival for casualties with severe hypothermia was 57.8%, moderate 80.9%, mild hypothermia 90.9%, and non-hypothermic group 97.6%, p<0.001. When adjusting for composite injury score, patient category, mechanism of injury, and location, this finding remained significant (OR 0.27, 0.21–0.34, p<0.001). Massive transfusion was more common in hypothermia casualties n = 566 (19%) versus non-hypothermic recipients n = 1734 (6.9%), p <0.001. Conclusions: Though the number of casualties that presented hypothermic was small, their injuries were more severe, and were more likely to receive massive blood transfusions. This cohort also had a higher mortality rate, a finding which held when adjusting for confounders. There appears to be an opportunity to improve hypothermia prevention for combat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2343-2346
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Casualty
  • Cold
  • Combat
  • Hypothermia
  • Military
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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