Former U.S. Army Special Operations medic John Steinbaugh has been deployed to Iraq many times. In the course of his duties, he’s treated many deep, hemorrhaging wounds gushing blood. A medic must pack such a wound with gauze as much as 5 inches deep at times. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped after 3 minutes of direct pressure, the medic must pull out the gauze & repack the wound. It’s more agonizingly painful for the wounded soldier than it sounds. As Steinbaugh puts it: “You take the guy’s gun away first.”
Even with this treatment available, hemorrhage is a leading cause of death on the battlefield. “Gauze bandages just don’t work for anything serious,” says Steinbaugh. So, after retiring, he joined RevMedx, a small group of veterans, scientists, and engineers working on a better way to stop bleeding.
“Gauze bandages just don’t work for anything serious”
Currently in development is a compact syringe filled with small sterile, biocompatible, and fast-expanding sponge disks coated with chitosan, a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance. A medic injects the sponges into the wound. The sponges expand in 15 seconds to fill the wound cavity and create enough pressure to stop the bleeding. The sponges also cling to moist surfaces so they are not pushed out of the wound by blood pressure. “By the time you even put a bandage over the wound, the bleeding has already stopped,” Steinbaugh says.
The military has shown interest in the project, granting them $5 million. Researchers at RevMedx are exploring many other applications. They are also researching biodegradable materials so the sponges do not need to be removed, as well as expanding gauze for larger wounds. RevMedx and the military are in final talks with the FDA for the sponge-filled syringe.
To read more about this go to the article in Popular Science