Uncontrolled bleeding continues to be the leading cause of death on the battlefield and the second leading cause of death for civilian traumas.
A new battlefield lifesaver in the form of a syringe can seal a gunshot wound in just seconds. The device was designed by US company RevMedx, which claims the apparatus can stop a wound from bleeding in just 15 seconds. The XStat is a modified syringe that injects tiny tablet-sized sponges into a wound. Its creators initially experimented by spraying foam into wounds, John Steinbaugh, a US Army Special Operations medic who is on the design team at RevMedx, told Popular Science. “That’s what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops, But we found that blood pressure is so high, blood would wash the foam right out,” he said.
The team decided to use sponges measuring 1 centimeter in diameter – the size of an aspirin or paracetamol tablet. Like the foam, these sponges expanded to fill the wound. They also stuck to moist surfaces and created enough pressure to stem the bleeding. The core technology behind the dressing is mini-sponges that expand upon contact with blood – resulting in a nearly immediate hemostatic effect without manual compression. A medic would simply insert the syringe into a wound and press down on the plunger to inject the miniature sponges.
RevMedx initially experimented on animal wounds. After early success, the company managed to secure US$5 mln in funding from the US Army. The company then finessed its design to use sponges made from wood pulp coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance called chitosan. Each sponge is marked with a special ‘X’ that shows up on X-rays to ensure that none of the tiny pills are left in the body. RevMedx is currently developing three different sizes of the syringe to treat a variety of wounds. Each one is made of lightweight polycarbonate and is expected to cost about US$100. It is currently awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the US.
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