A U.S. military doctor removed a live round of ammunition from the head of an Afghan soldier in an unusual and harrowing surgery.

Doctors say a 14.5 millimetre unexploded round — more than 2 inches long — was removed from the scalp of an Afghan National Army soldier at the Bagram Air Field hospital last month.

When the Afghan soldier, in his 20s, arrived at the base, doctors thought it was shrapnel or the spent end of some sort of round, said Lt. Col. Anthony Terreri, a radiologist deployed from Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

But as he reviewed a CAT scan of the soldier, he realized it was a much bigger problem, according to an Air Force news release this week on the case.

He immediately went to inform neurosurgeon Maj. John Bini, also of Lackland. Dr. Bini had the operating room evacuated; the surrounding hallways were secured, and he and anesthesiologist, Maj. Jeffrey Rengel, put on body armour for the surgery.

Dr. Bini and Dr. Rengel were joined in the operating room by a member of a bomb disposal team. And after Dr. Bini removed the round from the patient’s head, the bomb technicians took it away.

Dr. Bini said that while there have been similar cases of unexploded ordnance being removed from patients, this was the first such case he knows of in the Afghan war, which started in late 2001. In the past 50 years of modern warfare, there have been less than 50 cases of this type, he said.

The patient, who officials did not identify by name, is continuing to improve, the Air Force statement said.

Keywords: skull surgery

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