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Medical sponge invention has potential to save thousands of lives both on and off the battlefield.

XStat medical sponges are used for hemorrhage control on and off the battlefield. (courtesy photo)

XStat medical sponges are used for hemorrhage control on and off the battlefield. (courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Air Force Medical Support Agency partnered with a private medical company that developed life-saving technology for use on and off the battlefield.

XStat, which was developed by RevMedx, Inc., is a device filled with 92 sterile, compressed mini sponges that when injected into a wound expand up to 10 times their size when in contact with blood or fluid.

According to Army research, excessive blood loss has reportedly been linked to 90 percent of potentially avoidable deaths from wounds sustained on the battlefield. XStat, which was created with guidance from U. S. Special Operations Command military medics, is a unique hemorrhage control device designed to control severe bleeding in junctional areas, such as the armpit or groin, where tourniquets or other methods are not successful. The device was cleared for use on the battlefield by the Federal Drug Administration in April 2014. 

"This potentially life-saving device enables military medics and first responders to "dress" and "pack" a wound two to three minutes faster than traditional means, such as preparing and applying pressure with both hands to a tourniquet or "packing" a wound with gauze. This "free" hand can then tend to a patient's vitals and other injuries as the sponges naturally expand and control bleeding in the wound in a matter of seconds," according to Tricia Randall, Air Force Technology Transfer Program Office.

Sergeant Major Kyle Sims, a combat medic with U.S. Special Operations Command, said XStat has been used in the field.

"They couldn't get the bleeding to stop in his leg and they ended up using the XStat dressing," Sims said, adding that the surgeon on location had never seen the device. "He was quite impressed and he ended up pretty amazed that it worked as effectively as it did."

For hemorrhages in areas with major blood vessels like the shoulder and groin, where XStat is intended for use, Sims says it's a tough art to pack a wound using traditional methods like gauze to stop the bleeding.

"It might take four to five minutes to get that wound taken care of, whereas with XStat, it takes 10 to 20 seconds to get all the dressing in place," said Sims.

The sponges can remain in the patient for up to four hours or until they reach definitive care.  As with all severe wounds requiring surgery, the XStat sponges can be removed by a surgeon using standard instruments. All sponges contain a radiopaque marker that is clearly visible with standard X-ray to ensure proper removal prior to closing the wound.

Because of its proven effectiveness in testing, the FDA cleared it for civilian use in December 2015, with civilian market availability beginning in February 2016.

The Air Force Medical Support Agency is providing technology transition assistance to RevMedx, Inc. to assist with improving the manufacturing capacity for XStat. This assistance is made possible through the DoD Partnership Intermediary Agreement between the Air Force Research Laboratory and Montana State University/MilTech. As a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA), MilTech supports DoD Technology Transfer across the United States.  They specialize in manufacturing assistance and lean processes.

MilTech personnel, part of a military technology program, along with the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP), a U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership, are working together with RevMedx personnel to significantly scale up manufacturing capacity to meet the increased demand for XStat. This could create easier access to the life-saving device.   

"The support we have received from OMEP (and the Technology Transfer Program) is a critical step toward ramping our capacity to meet the ever increasing demands for XStat," said Andrew Barofsky, President of RevMedx. "Implementing these manufacturing principles will make the product significantly more available to first responders on the battlefield and in the civilian sector," said Barofsky. 

For more information about the Air Force Technology Transfer Program, please call 1-937-904-9838, email af.techtransfer@us.af.mil, or visit our website at www.wpafb.af.mil/T2.