19 October 2008

Further developments in first-line combat medicine

ARLINGTON, Va. — All soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will get new bandages to treat life-threatening bleeding, replacing the "hemcon" bandages they use now.

Those hemcon bandages represented a revolutionary development just 3 years ago.

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.

Now, the next generation of hemorrhage-controlling field dressings are here:
The Army has ordered more than 270,000 packages of Quik-Clot Combat Gauze and 17,700 packages of WoundStat, said Lt. Col. Sean Morgan of the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army.

Combat Gauze, made by Z-Medica Corp. in Wallingford, Conn, is gauze with a hemostatic agent while WoundStat, made by TraumaCure in Bethesda, Md., is a granular substance meant to mix with blood to form a seal over wounds.

The Army plans for every soldier to have a package of Combat Gauze while every combat lifesaver issued a combat lifesaver bag will have three packages of Combat Gauze, and all combat medics will have three packages of Combat Gauze and two of WoundStat, Army officials said.
The products are intended to be used in cases of life-threatening bleeding where tourniquets cannot be applied, said Col. Paul Cordts of the Army surgeon general’s office.

Tests have shown that the two products do much better at stopping bleeding than the hemostatic agents that soldiers have now, said Dr. Bijan Kheirabadi, a physiologist with the Army Institute for Surgical Research.

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