This New Army Tourniquet Is Going to Save a Bunch of Lives

The next time you find yourself with an extra external hole in your gut, you'd better hope one of these new tourniquets is on-hand. Otherwise, you could well die.

When you've been shot in the abdomen, the slug often ruptures major organs as it passes through, resulting in severe bleeding. And, if a soldier is hit just below his body armor, right around the hips, there's a greatly increased chance that the round will puncture an artery and the soldier could potentially bleed out in a few minutes. Police officers and car crash victims often suffer similar injuries. However, unlike severe bleeding in extremities, abdominal wounds are very challenging to staunch since conventional tourniquets simply aren't designed to tighten around a person's midsection. The aortic artery's location under several inches of flesh, next to the spine, doesn't help either.

To correct for this, two emergency-room physicians from the Georgia Health Sciences University and Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama developed the abdominal aortic tourniquet. It's a wedge-shaped device that sits even with the navel and is tightened, then inflated—using a hand pump—until blood flow to the lower body is halted. This extends the so-called Golden Hour during which an injured person has the highest chance of survival.

"By effectively cross-clamping the aorta with the abdominal aortic tourniquet, you are essentially turning the faucet off," Dr. John Croushorn, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Trinity Medical Center said in a press release. "You are stopping the loss of blood from the broken and damaged blood vessels. You are buying the patient an additional hour of survival time based on blood loss."

While there isn't a set availability for the device, the abdominal aortic tourniquet has received premarket clearance from the FDA and is currently on order by the US military. [Georgia Health Sciences University via MedGadget]