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Tiny sponges could save soldiers from death by bleeding on the battlefield

Published on Apr 10, 2014 11:20 PM
A handout image from RevMedX showing the XStat, which works by injecting a group of small, rapidly expanding sponges into a wound cavity using a syringe-like applicator. The device could revolutionise battlefield medicine by helping to stop massive bleeding, a major cause of combat fatalities. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A simple new method could revolutionise battlefield medicine: a syringe filled with injectable sponges, shot directly into a wound to stop massive bleeding - a major cause of combat fatalities.

The survival rate of US soldiers wounded while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan was nearly 90 per cent - a record for modern armed conflict - with only 6,800 deaths out of 51,900 wounded.

This is due largely to an improvement in battlefield first aid during the critical first hour in which the wounded person must be evacuated by helicopter to a hospital.

But nearly a quarter of combat deaths are still considered potentially avoidable, according to a study by the US Army that focused on 4,596 fatalities between 2001 and 2011. In nine cases out of 10, these avoidable deaths were due to massive blood loss.

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