Revolutionary Technology in the Fight Against Battlefield Injuries

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Image courtesy of DARPA.
Image courtesy of DARPA.
Image courtesy of DARPA.

Abdominal injuries are one of the leading causes of death for those serving on the frontlines of battlefields across the world. The nature of these severe intra-abdominal injuries -and the resultant hemorrhage- makes it extremely difficult to stop or slowdown the bleeding. Survival fundamentally depends on racing against time to get injured soldiers to the proper clinical setting before the resulting blood loss leads to death. However, imagine increasing the survival rate of intra-abdominal injuries from eight percent to 72 percent.

This is precisely where Arsenal Medical’s foam technology comes into play, which has recently received two grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Their product, the so-called ‘wound stasis’ foam, expands in the abdominal cavity and helps to significantly slow blood loss and can easily be used on the battlefield by a medic. The polyurethane polymer based foam creates a window of time in which injured soldiers can be transferred to the proper surgical facilities for post-injury treatment. A press release from Arsenal Medical highlighted that no pre-hospital intra-abdominal wound treatment has yet been effective in significantly reducing bleeding and improving chances of survival.

It appears that the above-mentioned foam technology is quite revolutionary in the fight against traumatic abdominal injuries. In a swine injury model study, the three hour survival rate after a severe liver injury was increased from eight percent to 72 percent; furthermore, blood loss from the abdominal hemorrhaging was reduced by six times. The ease with which the foam can be administered at the location of the injury, as well as the ease and speed with which the polyurethane polymer can be removed by a surgeon, make this technology extremely ideal. If you are interested in a thorough analysis of the product, you can visit the  DARPA’s website for more information.

I first heard about this product when I was talking to a surgeon about interesting medical technology developments he had witnessed. Not only am I still fascinated by the way in which the foam works, but I am also extremely interested in the lifesaving potential that this technology has. While most of the attention focused on the application of this polyurethane polymer foam to the battlefield scenario, I cannot help but think of the potential uses for this technology by first aid responders. Emergency medical personnel and paramedics on city streets all over the world could have another effective tool to prevent life losses and buy extra time to get those with severe abdominal hemorrhaging to a hospital for treatment. The implications of this technology are far reaching, as countless deaths have the potential to be prevented.

Unfortunately, it is not quite clear when Arsenal Medical’s foam will be used on the battlefield, nor is it apparent when we may actually see this technology on city streets. This innovative treatment for abdominal wound hemorrhaging shows quite a bit of promise for the future, and I look forward to one day seeing widespread use of this technology.