In the U.S. alone, over 30,000 people die every year due to firearm-related injuries. First responders have to act rapidly to dress a bullet wound, as every second could mean the difference between life and death. Now, they have some help from a device that can be used to stop a severe hemorrhage.
The dressing system is called XSTAT Rapid Hemostasis System (XStat 30) and works by releasing compressed medical sponges that are coated in a medical agent that causes the bleeding to stop. Once the sponges come into contact with blood, they expand and are capable of filling the cavity in less than 20 seconds.
Each application can absorb about a pint of blood and up to three applications can be used on a single patient. The dressing lasts for about four hours, which provides precious time for the patient to be taken to the emergency room. To facilitate the extraction of the dressing, each sponge is equipped with a radio marker that can be spotted using an X-ray machine.
The technology was first developed for military use in the U.S., but now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared its use by medical personnel on adolescents and adults in the general population.
Hemorrhagic shock ranks second as the leading cause of trauma-related mortality and accounts for 30-40 percent of civilian deaths by gun and shrapnel wounds.
“When a product is developed for use in the battlefield, it is generally intended to work in a worst-case scenario where advanced care might not be immediately available,” said William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in the FDA announcement. “It is exciting to see this technology transition to help civilian first responders control some severe, life-threatening bleeding while on the trauma scene.”
The FDA guidelines state that the XStat is to be used on a patient in immediate danger and should not be used on certain parts of the chest, abdomen, pelvis, or tissue above the collarbone.