If you've ever used a can of Great Stuff, you know what an amazing job the foam insulation does sealing up gaps and cracks around the house.
In similar fashion, The Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) has developed their own spray foam; only their version can be
injected into a wounded soldier's abdominal cavity to help stop internal
When soldiers are wounded on the battlefield, getting them
to advanced-level treatment facilities within the first 60 minutes of injury
often makes the difference between life and death.
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During this "Golden Hour," internal bleeding –
particularly in the abdominal cavity — is life-threatening because there
is little that can be done to stop the bleeding. Internal wounds can't be
compressed like external wounds, nor can they be treated with tourniquets and
hemostatic dressings, which require a medic to access to the injury in order to dress it.
DARPA hopes their new foam can help the wounded survive
until they get to treatment facilities. Designed by Arsenal Medical as part of
DARPA's Wounded Stasis Program, the polyurethane polymer foam can be injected
by a field medic in two liquid phases, a polyol phase and an isocyanate phase.
When the liquids mix, they expand to 30 times their original volume.
As it expands, the foam fills the abdominal cavity and
conforms to the surface of the injured tissue and organs. The foam then
hardens, providing resistance to intra-abdominal blood loss. DARPA says the
foam can even expand through pooled and clotted blood.
During tests, removal of the foam took less than one minute after an
incision by a surgeon. Only minimal amounts of the foam remained in the
abdominal cavity and no significant amount of tissue stuck to the foam.
No human tests have been conducted yet. However, tests on
swine did show that the foam raised survival rates for liver injuries after
three hours from eight to 72 percent and reduced blood loss by six fold. DARPA recently awarded Arsenal Medical a
$15.5 million contract for Phase II of the project to continue development in
hope of future FDA approval of a prototype device.