Syria civil war: Outcomes of humanitarian neurosurgical care provided to Syrian wounded refugees in Israel

Masad Barhoum, Samuel Tobias, Moshe Elron, Aviram Sharon, Tariq Heija, Jean F. Soustiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: As an expected consequence of the civil war in Syria, emergent neurosurgical care for battlefield trauma has been provided for severely head-injured Syrians transferred to Northern Israel.Methods: Sixty-six patients suffering from brain injury were brought to the border and then referred to the institution after initial resuscitation. Both the time and type of injury were recorded based on paramedic testimony, forensic material or on details provided by patients. A retrospective analysis of all medical charts and imaging material was performed.Results: Most injuries were combat-related, either caused by blast (13.6%), shrapnel (24.2%), assault (28.8%) or gunshot wound (15.2%). Only a minority of patients (18.2%) suffered from injuries that were not directly caused by weapon. A total of 55 surgical procedures were performed in 46 out of 66 patients, including craniotomies in 40 patients, burr hole alone for placement of intraparenchymal intracranial pressure (ICP) sensor in nine instances and ventricle peritoneal shunt in two patients. Decompressive craniectomy was used only for the treatment of gunshot wound and was performed in eight out of 10 patients. The most common complication consisted in cerebrospinal fluid fistulas (16.7%). Post-operative infections occurred in seven patients (10.6%). Short-term outcomes were favourable in 60.7%, with a mortality rate of 4.5%.Discussion: The present findings suggest that aggressive surgery and neuro-intensive care measures may lead to good functional results, even in the presence of seemingly devastating injuries in some selected patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1375
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number11
StatePublished - 19 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Brain injury
  • gunshot wound
  • neurotrauma
  • penetrating brain injury
  • war


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