Health Alert: Using ultrasound to stop internal bleeding

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - People have been getting ultrasounds for more than sixty years. But now the technology is being used in a new way.

Blood loss can be life-threatening for accident victims. But soon doctors may have a new tool to help stop internal bleeding without surgery.
Bioengineers are working on a new ultrasound device that they believe could someday detect and stop eternal bleeding.

Minutes count when a patient is bleeding to death from internal injuries. That's why researchers in Seattle are developing a new handheld device that will some day help locate and treat internal bleeding.

Bioengineer Shahram Vaezy is demonstrating how energy from high intensity ultrasound can penetrate deep inside a human organ and stop bleeding without damaging surrounding tissue.

"This is a gel that mimics a human organ, the human body, and you can see how we have deposited energy deep in the gel without causing any damage on the surface," said Dr. Vaezy. "It's to use a high intensity ultrasound waves to deliver energy to a spot in the body that's bleeding. That energy is converted to heat similar to cauterization and will stop bleeding."

Trauma surgeon Grant O'Keefe is working with bioengineers on the new device and thinks being able to treat bleeding organs without surgery could have important implications. 
"It has the ability to get at and to stop bleeding that we would consider in many ways inaccessible. Bleeding that might be in difficult areas in the chest," says Dr. O'Keefe.   
With pre-clinical studies complete, the next step for researchers is to move beyond a prototype, with hospitals likely to benefit first, and later, a portable ultrasound device for paramedics to treat internal bleeding at accident scenes.

The high-intensity ultrasound uses much more energy to produce heat that can reach the temperature of boiling water in a matter of seconds.

Posted by Logan Smith