• ACCSIL next generation surgical dressing

ACCSIL next generation surgical dressing (Photo : ONR)

The U.S. Navy is working to develop what it hopes will be a breakthrough medical wrap that will cover limbs injured in combat or in accidents while mitigating damage and protecting injured tissue for up to three days.

The next generation surgical dressing will be called the "Acute Care Cover for the Severely Injured Limb"( ACCSIL) and will be demonstrated within the next two years. It's being developed by the Navy's Office for Naval Research (ONR).

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The wrap will comprise two main parts. The first is an outer cover that will conform to the shape of the injured limb; stop blood loss; retain body heat and block out dirt.

The second is a "bioactive" inner layer coated with specially designed chemical compounds to release antibiotics and pain medication, keep tissue moist and prevent bacterial and fungal growth.

ACCSIL's ability to preserve tissue for up to 72 hours will be the wrap's most valuable virtue, especially in remote combat zones where it might take several days to transport an injured warfighter to a military hospital.

The wrap could also be a lifesaver in civilian scenarios like farming or automobile accidents, or terrorist attacks.

Researchers noted that the moments after a traumatic limb injury resulting from an explosive blast are critical. Blood is lost, tissue begins to dry and deteriorate, and dirt and harmful bacteria enter the wound, increasing the risk of infection, limb loss or even death.

"ACCSIL will be carried by corpsmen and medics, administered at the point of injury on the battlefield and used in conjunction with a tourniquet," said Dr. Tim Bentley, a program manager in ONR's Warfighter Performance Department, who oversees the research.

"It will be lightweight, keep the wound fresh and maintain tissue condition for up to 72 hours, which is particularly important as we plan for future scenarios where prolonged field care will be required."

ACCSIL is being designed by Battelle, an Ohio-based research and development organization, in partnership with ONR, the Naval Research Laboratory and the Naval Medical Research Center.

"Successful development of this system will provide military medics with a solution currently unavailable to them," said Kelly Jenkins, director of advanced materials for Battelle's Consumer, Industrial and Medical business unit.

"Current bandages aren't very good at keeping out bacteria, so a lot of medics improvise by using plastic wrap and lots of tape, which is actually really good at keeping the wound moist but not protecting or preserving tissue. ACCSIL will function much better."

 "The goal with this wrap is not healing but preservation," said Jenkins.

"We want to try to stop time -- to keep the wound as fresh as when it first happened and give surgeons up to 72 hours to start treatment. Even if ACCSIL can't save the whole limb, we want to save enough of the limb to give the patient a good quality of life they might not otherwise have had in such a situation."

"ACCSIL will be designed as a 'tactical to practical' tool," said Jenkins. "Not just for warfighters, but also for first responders and law enforcement. Urban warfare and domestic terrorism present a real need for a device like ACCSIL, which can dramatically improve medical treatment during such an event."