Junctional wounds are a serious problem, and we’re trying anything, no matter how disgusting, to treat them. If somebody’s injured in the groin, or where the arm meets the shoulder, it’s a difficult collection of nerves, muscles, veins, and arteries to deal with. But a new, odd device called the XSTAT was just used in the field to save a soldier’s life.
The XSTAT works in theory, but it can be hard to wrap your head around. It’s a big syringe that you stick in a wound to inject it with tiny sponges. The sponges suck up the blood and expand, temporarily sealing the wound with hemostatic pressure. In other words, they fill up with so much blood they plug the wound until the patient can be taken to a doctor. The sponges are removed during surgery.
The XSTAT was approved for field use in 2014, but it hadn’t been employed in the field until now. A soldier with a severe leg injury was in surgery for seven hours, until the XSTAT was used as a last-ditch effort. It not only worked, it worked perfectly, plugging a wound the surgeons couldn’t staunch and allowing them to move him to a better equipped facility.
That the XSTAT worked so well, more or less right out of the box, is great news. Understandably, when lives are at stake, doctors tend to default to procedures they know work, and this goes a long way towards proving the XSTAT can be added to that tool kit. That’s especially important in America, where we see firearm and motor vehicle injuries account for nearly a third of all accidental deaths. If the XSTAT continues to hold up in the field, it may save hundreds of lives.