Doctor honored for combat surgery contribution

Date Published: 
Thu, 2007-03-01

Doctor honored for combat surgery contribution.

By Pat Michaels

Military doctors were in a dilemma. Soldiers were being wounded in far-off areas of Afghanistan and Iraq, yet immediate surgery couldn't always be performed to save their lives because of a lack of anesthetics.

Anesthesia, in most cases, is delivered through oxygen inhalation, but, in combat situations, oxygen tanks are dangerous to transport and almost useless in desert areas because they won't operate in dry and dusty conditions.

Checking the Internet, the military surgeons came across the Web site of Newport Beach anesthesiologist Dr. Barry Friedberg,who practices his art in the offices of local cosmetic and plastic surgeons.

Dr. Friedberg had become a pioneer in the field of portable PK anesthesia for in-office surgeries. His Web site tells how he provides pain relief from a briefcase and without bulky oxygen-delivered anesthetics. By using a propofol ketamine (PK) technique, he said, his patients woke up from their surgery with minimal discomfort and essentially no post-operative nausea.

Desperate to find a solution to their in-the-field combat surgery problem, the military invited Dr. Friedberg to come to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX and personally brief their doctors.

This past week, Congressman John Campbelldelivered the government's thanks to Dr. Friedberg.

In a congressional proclamation citing the local anesthesiologist's "contribution to military anesthesia in Iraq and Afghanistan, sparing the need for anesthesia machines in field hospitals," it pointed out that lives have now been saved in the combat areas.

Dr. Friedberg seems dazzled by the citation. He points out the Congressional honor is a long way from his day-to-day work of anesthetizing patients for local cosmetic surgeons as they perform tummy tucks and breast implants.

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