Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tracking Metal Fragments

A Department of Defense registry is helping officials gather data to be sure that the long accepted practice of leaving embedded metal fragments in the wounded soldier’s body as long as vital organs aren’t threatened is valid. “In general, we’ve always felt that metal fragments in a body, if they are smaller than a certain size and not in a vital area of the body, it is ok to leave them in”, said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, DOD’s Deputy Director for the Force Health Protection and Readiness Group that created the “Embedded Metal Fragment Registry.”

The registry has the potential to help the military spot trends and track down potential causes of illnesses and perhaps lead to new tests that would determine the type of metal and its concentration in an individual.

It is important to know what the enemy may be shooting at our military and what type of enemy roadside devices are being used. So far, the fragments are not of a dangerous type of mental, but consist of iron, aluminum, or copper, or brass.

Those veterans that have had fragments removed and have had their fragments sent to the registry but still live with unrecoverable fragments, are now part of the database. Administrators will use medical records created when service members were injured in blasts and have the subsequent medical records added to that database.

Service members with electronic records are being covered. This information will be shared with the Veterans Affairs Health Care System and will follow veterans for the rest of their lives. So far, the registry has looked at 400 to 500 fragments to determine their makeup.