While frostbite occurs only sporadically in civilian populations, it is a major cause of disability among military personnel in temperate and arctic climates or at high altitudes. During World War II it incapacitated several hundred thousand men in various armies, and in the Korean conflict it has produced over 5,000 United Nations casualties. As a consequence, research on the problem has been accelerated, and a variety of methods of treatment, both new and old, have been subjected to controlled testing. While the results have not always been conclusive, they have forced a reversal of opinion on at least one time-honored principle of treatment and have indicated that several additional therapeutic measures may have some value.
Opinion has been reversed with respect to the relative merits of slow and rapid thawing of the frozen part. Until recently, custom sanctioned slow thawing, presumably because this produces less pain than rapid thawing. Controlled