Military doctors here are examining shrapnel taken from service members and veterans, looking for depleted uranium and other metals.
The Joint Pathology Center’s Biophysical Toxicology and Depleted Uranium/Embedded Metal Fragment Laboratories branch is analyzing the embedded fragments and providing second opinions at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers to treat those who had retained shrapnel.
“Our goal is to improve the care of wounded warriors,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Thomas Baker, interim director of the Joint Pathology Center, the umbrella organization for the lab.
“We advise [doctors] how to follow up and what treatment is needed” to mitigate the potential effects of uranium and other metals, he said.
The lab analyzes all combat-associated metal fragments taken from DOD personnel that might pose a long-term health risk, such as depleted uranium, which can contribute to kidney damage over time, Baker explained.
The lab also develops laboratory capabilities in metal toxicology to support the Defense Department, The Pathology Center and VA and Army programs that require exposure assessment to depleted uranium, embedded fragment analysis and analysis of certain metal alloys, officials said.
The only one of its kind in the United States, Baker said, the lab keeps a registry of the fragments for future re-evaluation. The register now includes 600 specimens.