Evaluating Alternatives to Traditional Cotton Laparotomy Sponges for Blood Absorption in the Austere and Mobile Surgical Environment

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    Sirkin MR, Cook P, Davis KG 15(4). 54 - 58 (Journal Article)

    Background: The operative control of noncompressible hemorrhage is the single largest impact that could be addressed in reducing the mortality on the battlefield. Laprotomy pads, traditionally used for hemorrhage evacuation, are made of woven cotton, and, while effective, their use requires a substantial amount of space and adds weight. This poses no concern in traditional operating rooms but is a hindrance for mobile providers and providers in austere environments. We sought to compare different absorptive compunds to ascertain their utility as alternatives for traditional laparotomy pads. Methods: Samples of cotton laparotomy pads, pure rayon sheets, rayon-polypropylene composite sheets, and non-polyester composite "microfiber" sheets were weighed and submerged in heparinized whole bovine blood. After saturation, the favrics were weighed, wrung dry, reweighed, and resubmerged. This process was performed for a total of three sequential submersions. The saturated weights and dry weights of each fabric were used to calculate how much blood each fabric could absorb initially and after multiple repeated uses. The initial densities of the four fabrics was calculated and compared. Results: The initial submersions demonstrated that 1g each of cotton, rayon, rayon-polypropylene, and nylon-polyester were able to absorb 7.58g, 12.98g, 10.16g, and 9.73g of blood respectively. The second and third sequential trials, which were statistically similar, demonstrated that 1g of cotton, rayon, rayon-polypropolyene, and nylon-polyester were able to absorb 1.73g, 2.83g, 2.3g, and 2.3g of blood, respectively. The calculated densities of cotton, rayon, rayon-polypropylene, and nylon-polyester were 0.087g/cm³, .012g/cm³, 0.098g/cm³, and 0.093g/cm³, respectively. Conclusion: Per gram, rayon absorbed approximately 1.7 times more blood thancotton and three-quarters the amount of the storage space. Rayon also retained its superior absorption abilites on repeated uses, demonstrating the potential for re-use in remote and austere environments. Thus, rayon could serve as a viable alternative to traditional cotton laparotomy pads in the austere environments.

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