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Emergency medicine physicians develop device to stop lethal bleeding in soldiers
Date:1/11/2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. Two emergency medicine physicians with wartime experience have developed a weapon against one rapidly lethal war injury.

Insurgents commonly aim just below a soldier's body armor, where the trunk and legs join, to injure the body's largest blood vessels, causing soldiers to bleed to death within minutes.

"There is no way to put a tourniquet around it, so soldiers are getting shot in this area and dying within several minutes," said Dr. Richard Schwartz, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University. Police officers wearing chest protection as well as automobile accident victims can sustain similar injuries.

Efforts to externally compress the injury have been largely ineffective; the inch-round aorta runs parallel to the spine, so it can't be approached from the back, and is several inches inside the abdomen even in a fit soldier.

Schwartz and Dr. John Croushorn, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala., hope their inflatable wedge-shaped bladder will make a lifesaving difference.

It's called an abdominal aortic tourniquet and it's placed around the body at the navel level, tightened then, much like a blood pressure cuff, inflated into the abdomen until it occludes the aorta and stops the bleeding. The goal is to restore the golden hour so soldiers survive long enough to get definitive care for their injury.

"By effectively cross-clamping the aorta with the abdominal aortic tourniquet, you are essentially turning the faucet off," Croushorn said. "You are stopping the loss of blood from the broken and damaged blood vessels. You are buying the patient an additional hour of survival time based on blood loss."

It was known that the knee pressed into the mid-abdomen could slow bleeding and block blood flow to the legs. The idea for the device came from studies c
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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