A sponge-filled syringe designed to close up gaping gunshot wounds in seconds has been approved for use in America's civilian population. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the device — originally developed for use by the military — can now be deployed by civilian first responders to control severe bleeding.
92 tablet-sized sponges expand to fill in the wound
The syringe works by injecting small, expandable cellulose sponges into wounds that can't be stopped from bleeding with the use of a tourniquet (e.g. wounds in the groin or armpit). The sponges expand on contact with blood in just 20 seconds, blocking its flow out of the body. Each applicator absorbs up to a pint of blood and up to three syringes can be used on a single patient. The sponges are only a temporary measure, though, intended to stop bleeding until the patient can be taken to a hospital. To help detect and remove the dressing at a later date, each sponge is tagged with a radiopaque marker.
How the Xstat works. (Xstat / RevMedX)
It's hoped that the device — known as the Xstat Rapid Hemostasis System — will be a lifesaver in trauma scenarios. According to data from the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research, 30 to 40 percent of civilian deaths from traumatic injury are caused by blood loss. And of this number, 33 to 56 percent of individuals die before they can reach a hospital.
"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 the FDA's acting director of device evaluation, William Maisel, in a press statement. "It is exciting to see this technology transition to help civilian first responders control some severe, life-threatening bleeding while on the trauma scene."