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Ear injuries sustained by British service personnel subjected to blast trauma

  • J Breeze (a1), H Cooper (a2), C R Pearson (a3), S Henney (a4) and A Reid (a4)...

To describe the pattern of ear injuries sustained by all British servicemen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2006 and 2009; to identify all servicemen evacuated to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine following blast injury; to ascertain how many underwent otological assessment; and to calculate the incidence of hearing loss.

Design and setting:

A retrospective analysis of data obtained from the Joint Theatre Trauma Registry and the Defence Analytical and Statistics Agency, together with audiometry records from the University Hospitals Birmingham National Health Service Trust.


Ear damage was present in 5 per cent of all British servicemen sustaining battle injuries. Tympanic membrane rupture occurred in 8 per cent of personnel evacuated with blast injuries. In 2006, 1 per cent of servicemen sustaining blast injury underwent audiography; this figure rose to 13 per cent in 2009. Fifty-three per cent of these audiograms were abnormal.


The incidence of tympanic membrane rupture was higher than that found in previous conflicts. Otological assessment prior to and following military deployment is required to determine the incidence of ear injury amongst British servicemen following blast trauma.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Major John Breeze, Academic Department of Military Surgery and Trauma, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham Research Park, incent Drive, Birmingham B15 2SQ, UK E-mail:
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  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
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