BACKGROUND: This study compared the triage of Iran-Iraq war-injured troops within the first two years of the war with that after the first two years.METHODS: This was a retrospective study, which compared the triage of the admissions for abdominal injuries during the first two years of the Iran-Iraq war with that in the next 6 years. Out of nearly 50,000 cases, 1,176 ones were randomly selected and their triage information was recorded and analyzed.RESULTS: About 12.5% of patients were operated on within less than 8 hours during the first two years. From 1982 towards the end of the conflict (1988), the patients were treated within progressively shorter periods of sustaining injury; 68.8% were operated on within less than 4 hours of injury. The mean delay between injury and treatment in the first two years of war was 12 hours while it was 5 hours between 1982 and 1988. The difference was significant (P<0.05) but the mortality rate was not significantly different.CONCLUSIONS: Patient triage was conducted differently at various stages of conflict. Better patient triage after 1982, may have been due to improved care and more specialized triage of injured troops.