Photo: Georgia Health Press Release
When someone’s aorta, the largest artery in the human body, is ruptured, there is almost nothing that can be done to save that person. That is, until now.
Two emergency medical doctors with wartime experience have found a way to buy precious time for people with that critical injury.
In a traumatic event that results in a ruptured aorta, the victim will bleed out in a matter of minutes—unless the bleeding can somehow be stopped immediately.
The problem is that traditionally, tourniquets don’t work around the abdomen because they can’t be tied tight enough to prevent the victim from bleeding out.
But Dr. Richard Schwartz and Dr. John Croushorn have changed all that with the invention of an inflatable tourniquet that applies uniform pressure across the naval. The device functions similar to a blood pressure cuff around the abdomen, inflated until the pressure crimps the artery, which cuts off the flow. This buys an hour or so—enough time for the wounded soldier to get to a hospital.
Dr. Schwartz, one inventor, was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is now the Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Science University.
Dr. Croushorn, the other inventor, serves as Command Surgeon of Task Force 185 Aviation in the U.S. Army in Iraq. He’s the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Trinity Medical centre in Birmingham, Alabama.
This innovation will cut down blood flow through the aorta, which could save countless lives from an injury that, until now, was all but fatal.
The abdominal aortic tourniquet is placed around the abdomen and inflated by squeezing a pump just like a blood pressure cuff.
Here’s how it works:
- The tourniquet is strapped around the victim’s abdomen. Once strapped closed, the medical technician inflates the device by hand.
- As the device becomes more inflated, uniform pressure is placed on the abdomen. After a certain level of air is added, blood flow to the legs is cut off.
- Once it’s inflated, the pressure crimps the artery and cuts off blood flow from the aorta. While this doesn’t stop the bleeding, it buys an hour of time for the victim to be brought to a hospital where they stand a chance.
By clamping the aorta, “you are essentially turning the faucet off,” Croushorn said to the Georgia Health Sciences University.
It’s still in testing phases, but the concept has been proven in tests and studies. It also could aid during CPR, keeping blood out of the extremities and near the brain, heart and lungs.
It’s been successfully tested on animals and is still on the way to market through testing phases.
If it succeeds in improving CPR even marginally, it will save lives. Successfully buying time for heavily bleeding accident victims could change medicine forever.
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