A Quick Fix for Gunshot Wounds


medical innovationEvery second counts when it comes to treating gun shot wounds. An Oregon-based start-up comprised of veterans, scientists, and engineers has developed a better alternative to conventional gauze. The organization, called RevMedx, has developed a device that can seal a gunshot wound in the pelvic or shoulder areas in just fifteen seconds. The device, called the XStat Rapid Hemostasis System, uses a syringe-style pump to insert small, pill-sized sponges into the wound. These quickly expand when in contact with blood, helping to block blood flow out of the victim’s body and providing a surface on which the blood can begin to clot.

 The XStat is designed for use in the pelvic and shoulder regions, as it is not possible to apply direct pressure or wrap a tourniquet around deep wounds in these areas. Currently, military medics treat hemorrhaging by stuffing gauze into the injury. If the bleeding does not stop, they will often pull the gauze out and try again, resulting in a process that is not only ineffective, but also more painful than the original injury. According to Popular Science magazine, blood loss is responsible for 80 percent of deaths from gunshot wounds that were not immediately fatal.

medical innovation - 2The small sponges are standard medical sponges that are coated in a hemostatic agent called Chitosan before being compressed down to pill-size pellets. Upon injection, the sponges cling to the moisture of the cavity. This prevents them from being washed away by flowing blood and allows them to effectively applying pressure to the wound. According to the FDA, the sponges are safe to stay in the body for up to four hours. When it is time for the sponges to be removed, a built in radiopaque marker allows for them to be spotted on X-ray technology.

RevMedx have developed two sizes of XStat applicators, a narrow one that is only 12 mm in diameter, and a larger one that is 30 mm in diameter. The applicators are designed to be as compact as possible, featuring a telescoping handle, and have sealed tips in order to prevent exposure to moisture that could result in premature sponge expansion.

The XStat received FDA approval on April 3rd, 2014, after the U.S. military helped to accelerate the process. The final stages of development were carried out under a U.S. army contract for US$5 million.

The XStat had remarkable success during clinical testing. During treatment of non-compressible hemorrhaging the Xstat provided a significant improvement in hemostasis and a reduction in blood loss, resuscitation fluid requirement, and medic treatment time, compared to the traditional hemorrhage control dressings. Survival 60 minutes after injury was also significantly improved.

The XStat Rapid Hemostasis system currently costs about $100 per unit, though RevMedX expects this to drop with increased levels of production.

Plans for the development of other life-saving products are promising; last summer the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded RevMedX a grant to develop a version of XStat that would stop postpartum bleeding. RevMedX also plans to develop a product that will treat larger injuries, such as those caused by landmines. Ultimately, RevMedX would like to develop biodegradable sponges that break down inside the body and do not need to be removed.

Find more information through the Popular Science article here, and through the USL Institute of Biomedical Engineering here.


* All photos property of RevMedX

Meredith Greey

Meredith Greey

Meredith is a student, writer and non-profit communications consultant from Toronto, Ontario.

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