by Lisa Winter
The average adult has about five liters of blood, depending on size and weight. Gunshot wounds can cause a person to hemorrhage and die in fairly short order, particularly if the would is in a difficult place manage. A new invention could change that by packing and putting pressure on a gunshot wound in just 15 seconds. The product is called XStat, developed by RevMedx.
XStat is a clear syringe-like container that applies dozens of 12-millimeter-wide sponges directly into an open wound. Once the sponges contact the blood, they quickly swell up and cling to the wound, ensuring that they stay in place. Enough pressure is placed directly on the laceration to stop bleeding so the victim can be transported for surgery.
One of the developers for this new device is John Steinbaugh, who retired from the U.S. Army as a Special Operations medic. Traditionally, battlefield wounds from bullets or shrapnel are packed tightly with gauze, which is incredibly painful and doesn’t always work. Hemorrhages are the top cause of military deaths, and this could save lives.
The idea started out in search of a product that worked like expanding foam insulation. It would just be squirted in and then expand to create the pressure. Unfortunately, the blood pressure from the wounded blood vessel was too powerful and the foam was not able to create a tight seal. Prototypes were made from regular kitchen sponges, but XStat is now made from wood pulp that is fast-acting and sterile. From the time the sponges are administered, adequate pressure is created before the medic can even finish applying the other bandages.
After the wound has been packed, the victim heads off to surgery. To ensure that even the most careful surgeon does not leave any of the sponges behind, they are all marked with an X that easily shows up on x-rays. This prevents a rogue sponge from getting in, getting infected, and causing sepsis.
Battlefields aren’t the only application for XStat, it could be used for hemorrhages caused during childbirth as well, particularly in developing countries. In fact, last year the device won seed money from Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge For Development that was funded by various government agencies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Currently, each device costs about $100, though the price is expected to go down as production levels go up. RevMedX applied for expedited approval with the FDA, and are currently in the final stages before approval. The company also has other innovative products with military medics in mind, such as the AirWrap bandage that inflates to add pressure and XGauze, which is a roll of gauze with the expanding sponges built in.
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