Two of the Army's top 10 greatest inventions for 2004 come from units that belong to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, according to this AMEDD press release of August 2005.
Unstoppable bleeding is one of the leading causes of death on battlefields. But now, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have a way to reduce bleeding when they're wounded. In "War Bandages", ScienCentral News writes that these new bandages contain chitosan molecules, extracted from shrimp shells.
Created by researchers at the Oregon Medical Laser Center using a research grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the 4-inch by 4-inch chitosan dressing is well suited for the battlefield and a vast improvement over gauze and pressure bandages currently used to stop extreme bleeding.
Over nine of 10 combat deaths occur before evacuation, and a little more than half of those are caused by uncontrolled hemorrhage. For centuries, battlefield wounds have been dressed with gauze, which can soak up blood but is incapable of stopping bleeding - bleeding which can result in death within minutes.
First field-tested by Special Operation Forces in Afghanistan in early 2003, medics now have a bandage that is actually able to clot a bullet wound in less than a minute. Researchers also believe the chitosan bandages could potentially save limbs because they limit the amount of time a tourniquet is needed.
More from the ScienCentral article:
Since Operation Restore Hope in Somalia ended in 1993, Army researchers have been making strides toward making uncontrolled battlefield hemorrhage a distant, horrible memory.
"I got involved out of my experiences in Somalia in 1993 with soldiers who were bleeding," says Army surgeon LTC John Holcomb. "As an army surgeon I found that frustrating, and I've really devoted the last 11 to 12 years now to helping decrease blood loss on the battlefield. That was, in many respects, a life-changing experience that altered the track of my career, to go into the research environment, and to work on hemorrhage control and hemostasis and resuscitation issues."
The chitosan bandages are being manufactured by HemCon, Inc. of Oregon, where many of the original researchers are now employed.
This is an exciting medical breakthrough that doctors estimate could have saved up to 5000 soldiers' lives in Vietnam. Once approved for cilivian use, it could save thousands of civilian lives as well. Uncontrollable hemorrhage accounts for up to 80% of civilian trauma fatalities within the U.S.
Honored for their work with the Chitosan Hemostatic Dressing were: Anthony Pusateri, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research; Angel Delgado, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research; Col. John Holcomb, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research; Kenton Gregory, Oregon Medical Laser Center; Lisa Lucchesi, Oregon Medical Laser Center; Jeff Teach, Oregon Medical Laser Center; Maria Anderson, Oregon Medical Laser Center; Simon McCarthy, HemCon Hemorrhage Control Technologies; Todd Campbell, HemCon Hemorrhage Control Technologies; Jim Hensel, HemCon Hemorrhage Control Technologies; Col. (Retired) William Weismann, HemCon Hemorrhage Control Technologies; Col. Robert Vandre, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command; Ronald W. Palmer, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity.
More on the medical advancements of the last decade at Andi's World here.