CF dental surgeon reconstructs faces, lives

RackMaster

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A part of our medical team that not a lot of people know about or would even think exists. It's great to hear of the miraculous work being done to save the locals lives; especially the children.

CF dental surgeon reconstructs faces, lives



CF dental officer Maj Sandeep Dhesi discusses images of the devastating facial wounds received by an Afghan man who was successfully treated at the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at KAF.
Monday, September 05, 2011

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan — Major Sandeep Dhesi has just completed a six-month tour of duty at the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield (KAF). The Army dental officer specializes in oral-maxillofacial surgery, a hybrid of medicine, dentistry and surgery.

Click to enlarge
CF oral-maxillofacial surgeon Maj Sandeep Dhesi chats with an interviewer in a treatment area at the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit.

“I worked as a general dental officer in the Canadian Forces for five years, but became drawn to oral-maxillofacial surgery because I wanted challenges,” he says. “It is a broad-based area of medicine where we can correct congenital deformities and provide both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery to children and adults alike.”

With some 13 years of military experience, Maj Dhesi cares for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers whose injuries affect their facial structure, especially the mouth. Small-arms fire, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and motor vehicle accidents are the three of the most common causes of injuries for which patients require his special brand of care.

“Approximately 80 percent of our patients are Afghans, with a fair percentage of that number being children,” says Maj Dhesi. “The other 20 percent of patients here at the Role 3 are coalition forces members.”

Devastating facial injuries
Maj Dhesi matter-of-factly explains that, in the last three months of his deployment, he treated patients whose problems would humble most Canadians. Patients sometimes remain at the field hospital for weeks of definitive care.

One 10-year-old Afghan was savagely wounded by an IED. “The boy had the most serious tongue laceration I have ever seen,” says Maj Dhesi, who collaborated with colleagues to reconstruct the boy’s face. Another patient was admitted to the Role 3 with head injuries that obliterated his sinus and nasal cavities and destroyed his entire palate – the roof of his mouth. He could not swallow, and any food he put in his mouth would enter the orbit of his eye.

Maj Dhesi worked to design, fabricate and install an obturator with colleague Maj Frederick Ferron, the Canadian officer commanding the dental section at the Role 3. The device serves as the man’s palate, allowing him to seal his throat so he can swallow.

“This was the most devastating facial trauma I had ever seen,” said Maj Dhesi, “but the man is doing well now.”

Maj Dhesi completed his specialized training at the University of Texas at Houston Medical Centre. Many victims of Hurricane Katrina were evacuated to Houston, where he was studying when the storm struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2007.

“This provided a broad base of trauma experience for me,” he says, “but the magnitude of the trauma [in Afghanistan] is much greater than anything I have seen before.”

Legacy of care
Maj Dhesi expects to be posted to Ottawa when returns to Canada, where his primary focus will be treating soldiers injured in Afghanistan who still require care from an oral-maxillofacial surgeon.

“These soldiers may require implants, reconstructive surgery and bone grafts,” says Maj Dhesi. “I am looking forward to working with them as they recover from their war injuries and experiences.”

Maj Dhesi explained that oral-maxillofacial surgery developed—and continues to develop—as a specialty of dental medicine primarily to meet the needs of patients with war injuries.

“After nearly 10 years of war in Afghanistan, I know we are thinking of what our legacy will be in the years that follow our efforts here. The Afghans—especially the children—who received care from us are a major part of that legacy. I think that, going forward, they will pick up a book instead of weapon because of the way they were treated while in our care.”

Article by Captain Nicole Meszaros
Photos by MCpl Dan Shouinard
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Red Flag 1

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Excellent post RM....

I don't know if it is still the case today, but the USAF Oral Surgery Residents had an outstanding program. They spent time in General Surgery, Internal Med (two rotations) , Anesthesia, a bit of Plastic-Reconstructive, and Cardio-Thorasic. That was all in addition to their own Dental rotations. The ones that completed that program were top notch folks. Most of the time they are thought of as "super Dentists" that just pull molars. It is good to see a post such as this to bring home what Oral Surgeons can offer, such as facial reconstructions. As noted above, a mix of Dentistry, Surgery, and Medicine.

RF 1
 

RackMaster

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I think it's also great to show that some pretty amazing medical professionals choose to wear the uniform. Years ago I dreaded the thought of a uniformed surgeon of any kind "cutting" me, the good ones were few and far between. But I think that has changed and more than likely as a result of being at war.
 

Red Flag 1

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I think it's also great to show that some pretty amazing medical professionals choose to wear the uniform. Years ago I dreaded the thought of a uniformed surgeon of any kind "cutting" me, the good ones were few and far between. But I think that has changed and more than likely as a result of being at war.

Military Medicine is outstanding, period. We meet all the same standards as any civilian practice is required to meet. We have the same caliber of training, sit the same boards, and publish as much as civilians do. Our facilities meet the same standards as civilian facilities. Our USAF facilities were always meeting inspections. In addition to JACHO, we had to meet USAF, and major command inspections. Each inspection expected more than the others. USAF would require more than JACHO, major command would require more than the USAF, and so on....... We were inspected at least once a year by someone. I have seen medicine from inside and from the outside of the military. Military medicine is outstanding, period. The difference is, we can do the same job anywhere. I'll put military providers up against civilian providers with absolute confidence that we are as good or better in all specialties.

RF 1
 

Marauder06

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He could not swallow, and any food he put in his mouth would enter the orbit of his eye.

:eek:
 

LibraryLady

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When I got to my unit in Germany, there was a young 'un with a wired shut mouth. Over the course of 2 years that I knew him, he went through several surgeries and ended up with a new face. I forget the original reason for starting the process, an accident compounding something else or something, but this guy had a humdinger of an oral surgeon at Landstuhl who fixed him up right.

The funniest part was watching him eat stuff - he put pretty much anything and everything into a blender. Depending on the time of day and the day of the week, it was mixed with either milk, Coke, or beer.

LL
 

Muppet

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Military Medicine is outstanding, period. We meet all the same standards as any civilian practice is required to meet. We have the same caliber of training, sit the same boards, and publish as much as civilians do. Our facilities meet the same standards as civilian facilities. Our USAF facilities were always meeting inspections. In addition to JACHO, we had to meet USAF, and major command inspections. Each inspection expected more than the others. USAF would require more than JACHO, major command would require more than the USAF, and so on....... We were inspected at least once a year by someone. I have seen medicine from inside and from the outside of the military. Military medicine is outstanding, period. The difference is, we can do the same job anywhere. I'll put military providers up against civilian providers with absolute confidence that we are as good or better in all specialties.

RF 1

I agree with you bro. While I had nothing to do with dental I did get an ankle reconstruction due to a jump injury and post surgery, I was able to jump again due to the excellent t/x. I recieved from the Army surgeon.

F.M.
 
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