Two new 21st Century techniques for halting blood loss

Rapid blood loss is a threat to human life. The severing of a major artery or major trauma to blood vessels, if left untreated, can lead quickly to loss of life.

Following crime-related injuries, such as knife wounds, or domestic incidences involving glass doors etc, blood loss usually dictates the immediate activities of paramedics on the scene.

Intra-operative and post-operative bleeding in surgical patients has been a major concern for surgeons over the centuries. These days, when most bleeding risks for planned elective surgery are well-identified and anticipated, unexpected and uncontrollable blood loss in the operating theatre is an infrequent occurrence.

Good surgical training and techniques, and the development of modern haemostats, mean that most intra-operative and post-op bleeding are predictable and containable ‘events’.

Here at Delta Surgical, haeomostats have become quite a focus for us and we have had excellent feedback about the new generation of Gelitacel® oxidised cellulose haemostat. These are produced using a unique alpha grade cotton substrate which carries the cellulose.

Surgeons love them because, with this technology, the haemostat is completely resorbed within 96 hours of implantation and it does not fragment or string. Procurement professionals love them because we can supply them at a cost saving of £50,000 or more for each hospital.

So the recent announcement of two new haemostat technologies to assist wounded personnel in conflict zones has created a lot of interest in our team.

The first is an injectable foam to seal off abdominal haemorrhage, indicated for use by first-responders who have little time to staunch internal bleeding on the battlefield. The foam has been developed by http://www.arsenalmedical.com for the U.S.-based Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

This solution is still in the development phase and a few challenges remain to be solved. You can read more about it here at Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/injectable-foam-blocks-bleeding/

.The second advanced haemostatic technology for battlefield application is the XStat a pocket-sized syringe that injects lots of tiny spongesinto a wound. Each one is made from wood pulp and coated with chitosan, a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance derived from shrimp shells.

In 15 seconds they expand to fill the whole cavity. They also cling to moist surfaces meaning they are not pushed out by the force of blood flowing from the wound.

The ability to stop significant blood loss in about 15 seconds has the potential to significantly increase the chances of survival for a casualty who has been shot, for example.The company who has developed this product is RevMedx in Oregon. You can find out more about the XStat here http://www.revmedx.com/#!xstat-dressing/c2500

This, too, is still classed as an ‘investigational device’ but the possibility of having an injectable haemostat to reduce blood loss from battlefield injuries has moved a lot nearer with the development work that has gone into these two new technologies.

In the relatively calmer atmosphere of civilian operating theatres, Gelitacel is still your best bet when you are looking for a highly-effective (and cost-effective) haemostat that will produce the best patient outcome.

But we will keep our eyes on these new technologies for you as one day they may be coming – in one form or anot