A novel sponge-filled wound-plugging device approved for military use back in 2014 has just saved its first life in the field. A soldier shot in the leg spent several hours bleeding heavily, and due to the awkward nature of the injury, medical personnel couldn’t plug the hematological leak.
They ultimately decided to use the XSTAT Rapid Hemostasis System, which stopped the bleeding almost immediately. The patient’s life could have been lost if the device hadn’t been used; in its first true test, XSTAT has passed with flying colors.
“The first-in-human experience with XSTAT is the culmination of tremendous effort on the part of both RevMedx and our military collaborators,” Andrew Barofsky, the CEO of parent company RevMedx, said in a statement to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. "We are pleased to see XSTAT play a critical role in saving a patient’s life and hope to see significant advancement toward further adoption of XSTAT as a standard of care for severe hemorrhage in pre-hospital settings.”
Back in December of 2015, the device was approved for civilian use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but this is the first time it has ever been used for a real life-or-death situation. It comes in the form of a syringe, which releases highly compressed medical sponges coated in a coagulating chemical agent. When injected into the wound, the sponges quickly plug the gap, and the chemical begins to thicken and clot the blood trying to escape.
The dressings last for around four hours, whereupon they have to be removed by a medical professional. Each individual sponge contains a radio marker that can be spotted with an X-ray machine, which ensures that none are left in the wound as it begins to heal.
In this instance, a coalition forces soldier was wounded in action with a gunshot to the left thigh. There was damage to the soldier’s femoral artery and vein, along with the femur; the tissue wound itself was fairly sizable. Although a self-applied tourniquet stopped the major bleeding, the medical team on hand were unable to stop some residual bleeding over the course of seven hours, and the soldier had to be supplied with several units of blood and plasma.
The XSTAT, the first of its kind, was used as a last-ditch effort to plug the wound. Medical professionals are often wary of using untested techniques or devices, but in this case, their gamble paid off. This little tale was good news for everyone involved, and it will no doubt give confidence to emergency responders in cities across the US who may soon save someone’s life with the very same unorthodox device.