Siemens Anti-Bleeding Cuff for the Military

The German conglomerate Siemens announced its plans to develop a prototype of a unique ultrasound device capable of limiting blood loss and shock resulting from limb injuries. The company has signed an exclusive contract with the U.S. government after undergoing a competition-based initial development process, at the end of which Siemens Healthcare was selected to carry out the project in collaboration with the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA), along with partners at the University of Washington’s Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound (UW), the Texas A&M University’s Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS), and Siemens Corporate Research (SCR).

Visualization of Arteries and Bleeders (Credit: Siemens)
Visualization of Arteries and
Bleeders (Credit: Siemens)

Under its official name of “Deep Bleeder Acoustic Coagulation” (DBAC), the anti-hemorrhage device is in essence a cuff, which when worn by the soldiers, can detect and treat bleeding that occurs as a result of penetrating injuries to the limbs – a common scenario in combat, which often puts soldiers at risk of severe blood loss which could, in turn, result in infection, limb loss and in extreme cases death. Once applied to the limb, DBAC uses Siemens Silicon Ultrasound technology to automatically detect the location and severity of bleeding within the limb. The cuff then emits focused high-power energy from its therapeutic ultrasound elements towards the bleeding site, speeding coagulation and eventually halting the bleeding altogether.

DBAC is specifically directed for use in combat situations by minimally-trained operators, and so aims to be extremely easy to use, being able to significantly quell blood loss in a minimal amount of time, including treatment of the wound and automatic power shut-off. “We are very excited to leverage advanced technologies of Siemens Ultrasound such as real-time volumetric imaging and Silicon transducers to realize DARPA‘s vision for saving lives on the battlefield,” said Richard Chiao, VP of Siemens Healthcare’s Ultrasound Innovation Group. “We believe technologies developed for this new therapeutic application of ultrasound will also benefit civilian care in the future.” Scientists who work on the project also stressed that since DBAC is intended for use on the battlefield, the cuff’s design is required to be compact and lightweight, with highly integrated electronics at the same time. According to the company, the final product will be designed to fit a vast range of limb sizes and forms – “from the wide male thigh to the slender female arm.”

Illustration of the cuff in action (Credit: DARPA)
Illustration of the cuff in action (Credit: DARPA)

The team of scientists has already developed Doppler-based automated blood loss detection algorithms, which use unique spectral and power Doppler bleeder signatures and volumetric data to locate the bleeding sites. The scientists are currently focusing on the modeling of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) dosing and delivery, and are attempting to create devices and materials for the initial DBAC testing – such as full-sized leg mockups, blood mimicking fluids, and tissue mimicking phantoms, capable of enduring the high temperatures produced by HIFU devices.

“We are very pleased that DARPA has recognized the expertise of the Siemens team to deliver on this ambitious vision,” said Dr. Frank Sauer, department head of imaging and visualization at SCR. “The development of this groundbreaking ultrasound technology will allow military personnel to begin treating blood loss injuries right at the front lines, potentially saving lives.” Other specialists also expressed their enthusiasm in regards to the project, saying they anticipate the final product to surely save lives in many future combat situations.

“We are eager to participate in this exciting program,” said Lawrence A. Crum, research professor and principal investigator of the University of Washington. “This unique technology offers a real opportunity to address a major problem in battlefield trauma.” “The challenge of applying our extensive animal modeling expertise to develop this potentially life-saving technology is exciting,” added Matthew W. Miller, DVM, Professor of Cardiology and Associate Director for Research at TIPS. “The opportunity to work closely with talented colleagues at SCR and UW will ensure that the likelihood of success is maximized.”

Throughout the developmental stages, the team of scientists will be working closely with the Combat Casualty Care Group at the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, surgeons from the Madigan Army Medical Center, and the US Army Institute for Surgical Research. The scientists’ goal is to produce a working prototype of DBAC within 18 months time.

TFOT has previously covered a number of groundbreaking devices, developed under DARPA, such as high resolution scopes that extend the range of viable image recognition and reduce atmospheric interference. Be sure to check out our article on the Agency’s new “Heliplane” – an air vehicle that combines vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and the low disk loading characteristics of a helicopter with the speed and efficiency characteristics of a fixed wing aircraft.

You can find more information on the DBAC project here.

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