DOD-Funded Consortium Improves Care for Injured Service Members, Civilians

Funded by the Department of Defense, the Major Extremity Trauma Research
Consortium (METRC) has pooled the resources of more than 60 trauma centers
throughout the United States for an extensive partnership aimed to improve care
for service members injured on the
battlefield. The knowledge gained from this research also will
serve to improve treatment for civilians suffering from similar orthopedic

  Lisa K. Cannada
  Lisa K. Cannada

“There’s strength in numbers, so the more centers we have, the
easier it will be to reach conclusions regarding care of trauma patients,”
Lisa K. Cannada, MD, associate professor in the department of orthopedic
surgery at St. Louis University, one of the consortium’s core centers,

Core centers are the busiest trauma centers in the United States, with
access to the highest numbers of patients, she said. That kind of turnaround
offers the large amount of patient data necessary to draw conclusions within a
1- to 3-year period. Having backing and funding from the government — $57
million, according to a press release — provides the consortium with a
wealth of resources previously unmatched. Prior studies have taken as long as
10 years to compile the data, and the changes that occur during a 10-year
period can have a significant impact on the results of the study.

“It’s exciting,” Cannada told O&P Business
. “People want to be a part of it.”

The core centers, however, are required to achieve certain criteria in
their patient care or they lose core center status. These include a history of
producing research, participation in multiple center studies, a demonstrated
system for completing research studies and enough patient volume to generate
the level of data required for a government study.

Current guidelines for treating orthopedic injuries on the battlefield
are simple: “Temporize, stabilize and get out,” she said.

First, trauma physicians must temporize the situation in order to be
able to handle multiple orthopedic injuries at once and stabilize the patient.
It is most important, she said, to quickly transfer the patients to centers
— like those involved in the consortium — that have the number of
physicians and the resources of a multidisiciplinary team capable of providing
the intensive surgeries necessary for these injuries.

To effectively serve these patients, however, the team must have access
to the most up-to-date information about treatment guidelines. The consortium
will provide solid outcomes data for those team members about the best possible

Additional topics for study include antibiotics, bone defect and
fracture healing, rehabilitation, and the effectiveness of a wound
vacuum-assisted closure device, Cannada said.

Although her role as principle investigator prohibits her from
predicting outcomes, Cannada said that results will be significant to the

“I think it will refine our care so that instead of having multiple
options, we will know which gives us the best options,” she said.
“We’ll be able to narrow down the best treatment and provide what
would be a standard of care instead of experimenting and thinking our treatment
is the best.”

Cannada said that she hopes that the results of the consortium will be
available in 5 years. In the meantime, however, practitioners should encourage
their trauma patients to be part of research projects, which will provide
answers for questions like these.

“It can only improve trauma care in the future,” she said.
“It’s a collaboration of dedication to our armed forces and the
wounded soldiers who sacrifice so much; it’s recognizing their
value.” — by Stephanie Z. Pavlou

Disclosure:Lisa K. Cannada receives
funding, including salary support, from the Department of Defense.

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