While the U.S. Defense Department is taking bold steps to embrace the latest technology in nearly every operational specialty, it might be the simplicity of a kitchen sponge that saves hundreds of lives every year.
The new battlefield gadget is called X-STAT, and it uses a novel twist on simple science, offering a different way to treat deep gun shot wounds that have plagued military medics for years.
The sponges work fast: In just 15 seconds, they expand to fill the entire wound cavity, creating enough pressure to stop heavy bleeding, reports Popular Science. Keeping the technology simple is hugely important in the chaotic, pre-hospital environment. RevMedx designed the XSTAT to literally be plug-and-play.
The dime-sized expanding sponges – which are made from standard medical-grade sponges and covered with a hemostatic agent – are injected into the wound with the plastic tube and immediately expand to stop the bleeding. And because the sponges cling to moist surfaces, they can’t be pushed back out of the body by gushing blood.
RevMedx claims uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of death on the battlefield and the second leading cause of death in civilian trauma. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the highest percentage of survivable battlefield deaths from 2001-2009 came from major trauma hemorrhage.
RevMedx, founded in 2009, focused their research on solving the problem of “non-compressible hemorrhage,” and believes their modified syringe that injects specially coated sponges into wounds will be the solution:
“A significant number of wounds occur to regions of the torso where compression cannot be applied, such as the pelvis or shoulder … By working closely with the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and US Special Operations Command, we succeeded in developing a novel hemostatic dressing capable of stopping high-flow arterial bleeding within seconds without external compression.”
RevMedx recently petitioned the FDA for approval of their invention, Popular Science reports. The company claims XSTAT could boost survival rates and spare injured soldiers from additional pain.
“The core technology behind the XSTAT dressing is mini-sponges that expand upon contact with blood — resulting in a nearly immediate hemostatic effect without manual compression,” the RevMedx site states. “We are incorporating this self-expanding sponge technology into a portfolio of hemostatic dressings to treat a wide range of wound types.”
The DoD Hemorrhage and Resuscitation Research and Development Program portfolio manager said the XSTAT provides the military with a totally new way to save lives, according to the Army. “It is a capability that has never existed before, and can be used in the field setting by medics, possibly even with buddy aid,” Dr. Anthony Pusateri said.