There's no denying that getting shot is a terrifying situation, especially during a survival scenario when there's a huge risk of bleeding out before finding medical attention. However, there's a piece of military technology that has proven effective at quickly and effectively sealing gunshot and shrapnel wounds: the XStat. Fortunately for us, the XStat has just been approved by the FDA for purchase and use by civilian doctors.
The XStat is a unique syringe-like contraption that injects a group of small, rapidly expanding sponges into a wound cavity. These sponges are super-absorbent, and soak up as much as a pint of blood to create pressure on the wound. In addition, a chitosan (aka quick clot) coating on the sponges promotes blood clotting and helps the wound resist bacteria. The combination of expansive pressure and quick-clotting agent can stop a life-threatening hemorrhage in 20 seconds or less.
XStat was originally developed by Oregon-based company RevMedX, and has been used by the United States military since April 2014. On December 7th, 2015, the FDA officially cleared it for civilian use on “patients at high risk for immediate, life-threatening, and severe hemorrhagic shock and non-compressible junctional wounds”. The device is especially useful for wounds that can't be easily wrapped in a tourniquet, such as those in the groin or armpit. The XStat sponges can remain in place for up to four hours, providing time for the patient to receive medical care. In order to make sure all the sponges can be easily removed by doctors, each is pre-loaded with a marker that will show up clearly on an X-ray.
William Maisel, Director of the FDA's Office of Device Evaluation said in a press release, “When a product is developed for use in the battlefield, it is generally intended to work in a worst-case scenario where advanced care might not be immediately available. It is exciting to see this technology transition to help civilian first responders control some severe, life-threatening bleeding while on the trauma scene.”
For now, the XStat is federally restricted to “sale by or on the order of a physician”. So, unless you're a doctor or have close connections with one, you'll have a hard time getting one for your first-aid kit. However, this compact high-tech wound dressing is an impressive life-saving tool, and we'd love to have one or two on hand someday if SHTF. We hope it continues to see wider availability in the future.
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