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Home > EMS Products > Technology

New foam could treat victims of internal hemorrhaging

Polyurethane polymer forms inside a patient's body upon injection of two liquid phases

By EMS1 Staff

WASHINGTON — A new type of injectable foam that molds to organs and slows hemorrhaging could be used on the battlefield by military first responders.

The technology, developed under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Wound Stasis System program, resulted in 72 percent survival rate at three hours post-injury in testing.

Wound Stasis performer Arsenal Medical, Inc. developed the foam-based product to control hemorrhaging in a patient’s intact abdominal cavity for at least one hour, based on swine injury model data.

The foam is designed to be administered on the battlefield by a combat medic, and is easily removable by doctors during surgical intervention at an appropriate facility.

Pre-clinical data on the foam treatment was presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Kauai, Hawaii.

These data demonstrated the ability of the foam to treat severe hemorrhage for up to three hours in a model of lethal liver injury. During testing, minimally invasive application of the product reduced blood loss six-fold and increased the rate of survival at three hours post-injury to 72 percent from the eight percent observed in controls.

"According to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, internal hemorrhage is the leading cause of potentially survivable deaths on the battlefield, so the Wound Stasis effort should ultimately translate into an increased rate of survival among warfighters," Brian Holloway, DARPA program manager, said.

"If testing bears out, the foam technology could affect up to 50 percent of potentially survivable battlefield wounds."

The foam is actually a polyurethane polymer that forms inside a patient's body upon injection of two liquid phases, a polyol phase and an isocyanate phase, into the abdominal cavity, according to DARPA.

As the liquids mix, two reactions are triggered.

First, the mixed liquid expands to approximately 30 times its original volume while conforming to the surfaces of injured tissue. Second, the liquid transforms into solid foam capable of providing resistance to intra-abdominal blood loss. The foam can expand through pooled and clotted blood and despite the significant hydrostatic force of an active hemorrhage, a press release said.

In tests, removal of the foam took less than one minute following incision by a surgeon. The foam was removed by hand in a single block, with only minimal amounts remaining in the abdominal cavity, and with no significant adherence of tissue to the foam.

Features appearing in relief on the extracted foam showed conformal contact with abdominal tissues and partial encapsulation of the small and large bowels, spleen, and liver. Blood absorption was limited to near the surface of the foam; the inside of the foam block remained almost uniformly free of blood, according to tests. 

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Cianan Josiah Tsali Puckett Cianan Josiah Tsali Puckett Tuesday, February 05, 2013 3:45:15 PM Biofoam much? Awesome stuff.
Jamie Watts Jamie Watts Tuesday, February 05, 2013 6:01:33 PM Very interesting technology, I would be very interested to see how it proves to work in the field.
Royce Edwards Royce Edwards Tuesday, February 05, 2013 6:50:58 PM It will be interesting to see if this is eventually used for pre-hospital trauma patients in civilian settings. It could effectively extend the golden hour particularly in cases where patients are far from a regional trauma facility.
Brian Grimm Brian Grimm Tuesday, February 05, 2013 7:11:59 PM I wish I could remember which action movie used this concept. It's amazing how many fictional concepts eventually work out. Maybe we'll see the foam-in-place supplemental restraint system from Demolition Man soon.
Royce Edwards Royce Edwards Tuesday, February 05, 2013 7:14:54 PM @Brian, I don't know about films but Grey's Anatomy had an episode where Owen Hunt, a Doctor who had been an Army field medic, treated a patient with a granular powder he poured in the abdominal cavity which sounded very much like this.
Octavio Quinones Octavio Quinones Tuesday, February 05, 2013 7:26:51 PM interesting...
Brian Robinson Brian Robinson Tuesday, February 05, 2013 10:22:58 PM Royce, the granular material would have been Quiclot or Celox, both are in extensive military and civilian use now.
Brian Truscott Brian Truscott Thursday, February 14, 2013 1:00:07 PM Most likely QuikClot (a powder that has an exothermic reaction when in contact with hemoglobin), which cauterizes a deadly bleed.
Ben D Chlapek Ben D Chlapek Monday, February 18, 2013 11:20:31 AM Questions . . . exothermic properties? Isocyanate is large component of super glue; any byproduct or does it all react in the polymeric stage? As for QuikClot, so many quotes about bad exothermic rxns. but never saw more than mild to mild moderate exothermic rxns. with NO burns. It's much better than bleeding out and it works very well!
Linda Chlapek Lytle Linda Chlapek Lytle Monday, February 18, 2013 12:55:40 PM While most of your post is waaayyyy over my head, it sounds much like the foam-in-a-can we use to insulate around pipes in our house. Very interesting concept, and I hope it saves lives.
Carlos Fabián Suárez Carlos Fabián Suárez Tuesday, February 19, 2013 2:19:31 AM Nueva espuma podría tratar a víctimas de hemorragias internas.
Nancy Becker Nancy Becker Tuesday, February 19, 2013 8:38:36 PM Ben, I saw some bad burns from the QuikClot, but this foam might do the trick. Either way, the alternative of not using anything pretty well stinks. Thanks for the info.

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