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Ultrasound cuff could stanch bleeding on battlefield

The Deep Bleeder Acoustic Coagulation cuff is designed to limit blood loss from penetrating wounds to limbs. Siemens Healthcare is working on a prototype.

A prototype high-tech cuff that detects and treats bleeding from combat injuries got a step closer to the battlefield Monday when Siemens Healthcare announced an exclusive contract with the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency to develop the device.

First aid training
Infantrymen from the 82nd Airborne Division being trained in first aid--here, dressing a leg wound. Mike Pryor, 82nd Airborne/Courtesy of U.S. Army

The Deep Bleeder Acoustic Coagulation cuff, or DBAC, is designed to limit blood loss from penetrating wounds to limbs--as in the case of a gunshot injury--thus reducing the risk of limb loss or death.

Once the cuff is applied, ultrasound technology within the device automatically would identify the location and severity of the bleeding. This in turn would trigger therapeutic ultrasound elements to emit and focus high-power energy toward the bleeding sites, speeding coagulation and halting bleeding.

Siemens says the compact and lightweight device can accommodate a variety of limb sizes, from a wide male thigh to a narrow female arm. The cuff is intended to shut off automatically and to be operated with minimal training.

When word of the DBAC first surfaced in 2006, both Siemens and a competing team from Philips were awarded contracts by DARPA to develop the technology.

Now that Siemens has landed the deal, it will be working with partners at the University of Washington's Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound; Texas A&M University's Institute for Preclinical Studies; and Siemens Corporate Research to meet DARPA's goal of producing a prototype in 18 months.

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