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The foam can reduce blood loss six-fold and boost the rate of survival at three hours post-injury to 72 percent

A new type of foam that is injected into the body could save the lives of countless soldiers wounded on the battlefield.

The U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been working with a medical company that can help soldiers survive internal abdominal injuries and internal hemorrhaging.

The DOD strives to accomplish what is known as the "Golden Hour," which transports a wounded soldier to a medical facility in under an hour. However, for those suffering from internal abdominal injuries and internal hemorrhaging, their chances of surviving an entire hour with a large amount of blood loss are quite slim. 

Currently, there are limited solutions for temporarily taking care of internal hemorrhaging while transporting a soldier to the hospital. Internal wounds cannot be compressed, and tourniquets and hemostatic dressings cannot be used due to the need to see the actual injury.

To address this issue, DARPA started the Wound Stasis System program in 2010. Through the program, it found Arsenal Medical, Inc., which developed the new foam method.

This is how the foam works: two liquid phases are injected into the abdominal cavity. The first liquid phase is a polyol phase, and the second is a isocyanate phase. When these two liquids are combined, they two different reactions take place. The first expands the liquid to about 30 times its original volume where it fits the surfaces of the injured tissue. The second transforms the liquid into solid foam, which becomes a polyurethane polymer. It is capable of resisting intra-abdominal blood loss, and can expand through both pooled and clotted blood.

The foam, which can be quickly and easily removed by doctors once the soldier is taken to the medical facility, can reduce blood loss six-fold and heighten the rate of survival at three hours post-injury to 72 percent. This number was at 8 percent without the foam. The foam showed that it could treat a lethal liver injury for three hours before reaching medical treatment.

“Wound Stasis has been an exciting program because we were able to move unexpectedly from fundamental research to a pre-clinical proof-of-concept based on the strength of our findings,” said Brian Holloway, DARPA program manager. “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. If testing bears out, the foam technology could affect up to 50 percent of potentially survivable battlefield wounds. We look forward to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on future regulatory submission of this device, and with our partners, the Army Institute of Surgical Research and Special Operations Command, on getting this technology to where it’s desperately needed on the front lines.”

DARPA gave Arsenal Medical, Inc. $15.5 million for Phase II of foam development.

Check out this video of how the foam works:

Source: DARPA

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RE: this is very cool
By augiem on 12/11/2012 4:29:25 PM , Rating: 1
I can imagine this kind of thing will lead to either the reduciton of medical staff and/or putting more workload on existing staff because many types of injuries would no longer be as high priority so the patients could be moved back in triage. Now they'll have more time to deal with the problem, so you can fit more people in the waiting line.

It's like how computers get faster and faster every year. You imagine it would mean your job would get a little easier, but ultimately you're just expected to do more work in the same amount of time.

RE: this is very cool
By Solandri on 12/11/2012 7:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's like how computers get faster and faster every year. You imagine it would mean your job would get a little easier, but ultimately you're just expected to do more work in the same amount of time.

You're expected to do more work in the same amount of time because computers did make your job easier. It used to take hours to number crunch the monthly expenses for a report. Now you can do it in seconds.

You may not be seeing the benefits of that directly in terms of your salary. But you're seeing it indirectly in terms of lower prices. The company making your HDTV doesn't have to hire as many people to do its accounting, so it can lower the prices of its TVs.

In terms of triage, what this does is allow them to handle spikes of patients better. Before you'd have a bunch of doctors and nurses sitting around doing nothing most of the time, except after a big battle there wouldn't be enough of them to treat all the injured. It's not like a civilian hospital where most of the time there's a steady stream of patients coming in. So any system which can spread out those spikes of injuries will help, even if it means the number of medical staff can be reduced. It improves efficiency because the doctors have to spend less time sitting around doing nothing waiting for injuries to come in.

RE: this is very cool
By maugrimtr on 12/13/2012 7:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how this lessens a wounded soldier's priority for treatment. A fatal wound remains a fatal wound. It just offers more time to get the person to a surgeon before they die from blood loss.

RE: this is very cool
By bh192012 on 12/12/2012 11:50:58 AM , Rating: 3
It'll add a ton more workload. Before, they'd say yup, he's dead, put him over there and move on. Now they'll have to perform a giant caesarean to remove foam, then repair your internal injury, blood transfusion plus a long recovery.

RE: this is very cool
By JediJeb on 12/12/2012 1:35:34 PM , Rating: 2
Actually if you can identify the location of the injury you could probably fix the hemorrhage first then remove the foam. That way you save the patient then the foam removal can be done at a more relaxed pace.

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