In a society struggling to rebuild after years of dictatorship and war, Iraqi craniofacial and plastic surgeons will play a critical role in treating many of the most serious injuries caused by the ongoing conflict in that country. An important step forward was last year's "Kuwait Plast 2005" meeting, in which Iraqi surgeons met with their Kuwaiti and American counterparts in a 5-day exchange of surgical knowledge and international goodwill, sponsored by the International Confederation of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS) and the Kuwait Ministry of Health. An important educational focus was on modern surgical techniques of treating burns, explosive injuries, and other combat- and terrorism-related injuries.
The March/April 2006 issue of The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery publishes a series of research papers by Iraqi craniofacial surgeons whose goals are similar to those of their counterparts who attended the Kuwait meeting. "We hope these will be the first of many papers to come, as Iraqi surgeons strive to meet the urgent need for advanced craniofacial and plastic surgery procedures in their country," comments Dr. Mutaz Habal, Editor-in-Chief of JCS.
The papers include a study by Drs. Raja Kummoona and Aliaa M. Muna on their experience in treating facial injuries caused by the Iraqi conflict. The "bizarre nature" of the conflict—a combination of conventional war, civil unrest, crime, and terrorism—has led to a unique pattern of devastating facial injuries, the authors write. Their paper includes a system for classification, immediate evaluation, and eventual reconstruction of the injuries.
Other papers by Iraqi surgeons address techniques of dealing with the long-term effects of injuries involving loss of an eye and an in-depth analysis of a type of highly malignant jaw tumor affecting children in the Middle East. "It is a tribute to the determination and dedication of these surgeons that they are able to carry on their clinical and research activities at a time of such chaotic change in their country," comments Dr. Habal.
At the Kuwait meeting, the Iraqi surgeons were presented with gifts of current education materials, including subscriptions to the online edition of JCS. "I have never seen anyone more appreciative," says Dr. Habal. "They have as many old textbooks as they need—it's immediate electronic media that they lack. Having access to JCS and other educational tools will allow them to go on the Internet and read about the new techniques and outcomes."