On the battlefield, medics put their lives on the line to get a wounded soldier to advanced medical care within the “Golden Hour” – within the first 60 minutes of being hurt. The Department of Defense continuously researches & develops ways to cut down the time to treatment to meet that goal.
Among the challenges they face is critical treatment administered by the first responder which is necessary if the patient is to have any chance of survival. An example is internal abdominal injuries and resulting internal hemorrhaging. In such a scenario, the internal wounds are much harder to treat through compression. The lack of wound visualization makes using tourniquets or hemostatic dressings problematic. Often the resultant blood loss tragically leads to death where the wound would have been treatable had the patient made it to the medical facility.
» The Wound Stasis System Program develops a solution
In 2012, DARPA initiated the Wound Stasis System Program to research solutions to this problem. At first, the program tried to identify a biological mechanism able to discern wounded tissue & bind to it, stopping the internal hemorrhaging. As the program developed, however, a new solution emerged. Arsenal Medical, Inc. developed a foam that could stop internal hemorrhaging in the wounded patient’s internal cavity. This foam could easily be inserted by field medics using a minimally invasive technique. The foam conforms to the surface of organs & injured tissue, yet is non-adherent & is minimally absorbent. Facility doctors could easily & quickly remove the foam during surgery. At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, members of the Wound Stasis program demonstrated that this stop-gap measure could hold for up to 3 hours in a model of lethal liver injury. Testing showed that blood-loss was 6 times less than situations where the the foam treatment was not administered. 3 hour survival rate was up 72%.
The foam forms within the body cavity upon injection of 2 liquids. When the liquids come in contact with each other, the mixture expands to 30 times it’s original volume & conforms to injured tissue. It then transforms into the solid foam. The foam can expand through clotted or pooled blood despite the significant hydrostatic force of an active hemorrhage.
» Official enthusiam
While still in development, DARPA officials remain highly supportive & even enthusiastic of Wound Stasis’ foam. They tout the importance of treatment during the “Golden Hour” & how Wound Stasis’ foam looks like the solution they’ve been waiting for when treating internal hemorrhaging. Our troops put themselves in great danger to preserve our continued freedom & safety. They deserve the development of techniques to ensure their safety & recovery as much as possible.
Read more at DARPA’s website.