Ah, the sponge. So absorbent. So useful for scrubbing dishes. So effective at getting down and dirty with even the peskiest of stains. While their domestic capabilities are boast worthy enough, sponges have been effectively employed in what could prove to be their most useful function yet: sealing up gunshot wounds. That’s right, tiny sponges are changing the way first responders are treating victims of gunshot wounds.
XSTAT 30, a syringe loaded with blood-absorbing sponges that is injected directly into a gunshot wound can effectively seal the traumatizing injury in under a minute flat. Developed by RevMedx, an Oregon-based startup, XSTAT 30 has proven so effective at treating gunshot wounds that the FDA has just recently approved the device to be used in civilian situations. Previously, XSTAT 30 was tested and utilized in combat scenarios to treat injured soldiers.
Up until now, the common method for treating gunshot wounds was to pack the hole with gauze and apply pressure to prevent the patient from bleeding out until they can be properly treated and operated on at a hospital. With a gaping hole in one’s body, bleeding out and hemorrhaging can occur fast, and gauze isn’t a full-proof method for ensuring that a patient remains stable until they arrive at a hospital. The United States Army Institute of Surgical Research reports that anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of gunshot deaths are due to hemorrhaging, and anywhere between a third and a half of those victims die before they even reach a hospital.
Designed to better manage severe bleeding and prevent victims from going into shock and bleeding out, XSTAT 30 employs biocompatible and sterile mini sponges to pack gunshots wounds quickly and absorb blood much quicker than gauze. The sponges are constructed from wood pulp and coated with chitosan, which is an antimicrobial substance derived from the shells of shrimp that acts as a natural blood clotting mechanism. When the sponges make contact with blood, they expand up to 15 times their normal size and apply internal pressure within the cavity of a wound that creates a makeshift barrier that halts the flow of blood.
Depending on the size and severity of the gunshot wound will determine how many of these sponges will be needed, but each sponge packed syringe can absorb about a pint of blood the company states. Lasting for up to four hours, XSTAT 30 provides a healthy window of time for patients to be transported to an operating room to receive proper treatment.
Though XSTAT 30 sounds like a game changing quick fix for trauma scenarios, the method has limited use when it comes to the body parts it can be effectively applied to. Areas such as the pelvis, chest and abdomen won’t support the XSTAT 30’s spongy methods. Nothing’s perfect, after all. Still, XSTAT 30 has proved to be a lifesaver on the battlefield, and that should be enough to get paramedics and first responders to accumulate a stockpile of these innovative syringes.