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Stile 65's Journal: Temporary blood vessel shunt to be used to save limbs in war 157

Journal by Stile 65

The FDA has just approved for military use a shunt which allows partially-severed limbs to continue to get circulation. According to the article, "For most, it won't be a matter of saving a limb outright but rather salvaging the quality of a wounded leg or arm." This is because "The tubelike device is designed to connect the two ends of a severed blood vessel, providing a temporary bridge or shunt around a wound to restore blood flow to an injured limb" according to the FDA. "The shunt may save injured limbs from amputation, since it can be implanted on the battlefield to maintain blood flow until a wounded soldier undergoes surgery, FDA officials said. Since the start of the Iraq war, more than 500 soldiers have lost limbs, many to injuries suffered in roadside bombings."

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Blood Vessel Shunt May Save Limbs In War

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  • Even better (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:01PM (#17974326)
    Peace may save limbs lost in war.

    In short: stop warmongering, and soldiers will stay in one piece.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by LT7 (1022997)
      stop warmongering, and soldiers will stay in one piece

      IANL but Iraq repeatedly violated UN Security council resolutions 678, 687, 1441. I'd say that the Iraq conflict was the absolute last resort. Whilst the countries that went in were foolhardy not to get UN Security Council authorisation they were hardly warmongering, Saddam brought it on himself.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by nietsch (112711)
        And what was the violation of those resolution that was/is maiming US invasion troops? There was no legitimate reason to start this war (USian hawks like to ignore/distort that fact), and no UN resolution to declare war.
        The US has all the nasty weapons that they accused Iraq from developing, violates human rights when they feel like it (guantanamo, reditions etc) and routinely kills their own citizens. If there is an axis of evil, is has the US at its center. There are hundres of civilized countries that ca
    • by drsquare (530038)

      In short: stop warmongering, and soldiers will stay in one piece.
      Ok, just tell people like Saddam to stop gassing Kurds and trying to conquer his neighbours.
  • Only 500? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weston O'Reilly (1008937) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:04PM (#17974344)
    Only 500 soldiers have lost limbs since the start of the war? Why does that sound so unlikely? We've been hearing all along that the death toll is so much lower than previous US wars because of advances in trauma care that allow soldiers to survive injuries that were once not survivable, but we're seeing a huge increase in limb loss in the trade off.

    Does anyone know if this statistic is accurate?
    • But all that was specificed in the article was "over 500 soldiers" had lost limbs. Now, five hundred & thirty four would be over five hundred. But so would seven thousand.
      • And 7,000 seems to satisfy my uninformed beliefs better than 500. I just assumed the number of amputees has by now greatly exceeded the death toll. I've heard analysts talking about how this will be a boon to the prosthetics industry and that we'll see advances in prosthetics faster now that demand is so much higher. I know there's got to be many eye and ear and hand injuries that are equally disabling that aren't counted there, but I'm still shocked to see a ballpark figure of "over 500".
        • by Chmcginn (201645) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:39PM (#17974622) Journal
          Well, the figures for people with amputations aren't readibly available. What you can find, though, is the figures on total casualties. See this link [whs.mil]. So we know that (as of Feb 2006), a total of 23,000 troops were wounded in action and survived, of which some 7000 required to be medevaced. (Hence my 7000 figure from the earlier post.) I've looked a bit, but I haven't seen any reports on the final disposition of those casualties - how many of those make full recoveries, how many are amputess, blind, deaf, or end up with medical discharges at some point.
          • Medevac tends to mean much more often massive blood loss or organ punctures rather than the need to amputate. At most, the number of medevaced people who needed amputation are probably less than 3000.
            • by Chmcginn (201645)
              Right - not all medevacs are going to mean amputation. But any amputation will have been medevaced - hence the upper limit of 7000. If I had to guess, not using the 'major amputation' definition that they used to reach the 500 amputee figure, probably fully half of those 7000 are going to have a permanent loss of something, be it a part of a finger, an eye, or a whole limb.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by maxume (22995)
          How many amputees do you see in a normal month?

          The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 8,450 amputations in 2005, with 5,780 being fingertips and another 2,300 involving fingers. That leaves 370 other injuries. It reports 190 injuries for hands and feet, leaving 180 injuries that involve loss of limb. Link:

          http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/case/ostb1669.txt [bls.gov]

          I'm comfortable assuming people get hurt working a lot more often than playing, so there are something like 400 injuries a year that involve very high los
          • Many more amputations come from motor vehicle accidents, gunshots, tumors, diabetes. I alone did about 10 last year.
            One of my colleagues just got back from Iraq - he amputated over 600 limbs in 40 years or so, and he's just one surgeon. I'm sure the army has around a 50 or so orthopaedic surgeons at the minimum.
    • Re:Only 500? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:13PM (#17974416)
      Time [time.com] says the 500th amputee was a Corporal, injured on January 12th 2007.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jofer (946112)
        Accidentally modded you as a troll, replying to negate the moderation... Sorry 'bout that! Back on the topic, I think the primary reason the number of amputees is so "low" is due mainly to the advances in medicine since, say, the Vietnam War, rather than under-reporting of the actual number. A lot of limbs can be saved now that couldn't have been even ten years ago... On a more gruesome side note, I'd imagine they're not including "minor" extremities such as fingers, toes, etc. in that particular numbe
        • by dave420 (699308)
          Indeed - it says in the article I posted that they do not include the amputation of fingers/toes in those statistics, just entire limbs. And yes, I'm sure the progress made in the field of combat trauma care means people are less likely to lose their legs. But then couple that with a war where most people are killed by explosives (on our side, anyway), and the statistics are going to be very confusing to most people, usually not reflecting what they'd expect. Iraq is not like any other war we in the west
          • From the Time article:

            The 500 major amputations -- toes and fingers aren't counted -- represent 2.2% of the 22,700 U.S. troops wounded in action.

            Okay, so we're only talking "wounded" here.

            But the number rises to 5% in the category of soldiers whose wounds prevent them returning to duty.

            Huh? 95% of the troops who cannot return to duty are not amputees? If they all their body parts and are not dead, then why can't they return to duty?

            • by Chmcginn (201645)
              Partially deaf.

              Blind in one eye.

              Partially paralyzed.

              Serious chest wound that caused internal organ damage - you might survive, but if your lung capacity is permanently reduced 20%, you're not going to be running about the desert with a pack on.

              Ditto for a knee/joint injury - even if they save you leg, if you're limping, you're not going to be staying in the infantry.

              • Again, 5% & 95%. 5% is 500, so 95% is 9,500.

                9,500 injuries that mean that they cannot return to duty. Blind in one eye may or may not be a factor. It depends upon the job. The same with deaf in one ear. The same with limping.

                It seems that they're using an extremely narrow set of criteria. I would count being blinded in one eye the same as losing a hand/arm. And being deafened in one ear. And being partially paralyzed.
                • by dave420 (699308)
                  You might count them as being the same, but they're clearly not the same actual injury. We're talking accurate reporting here, not "oh that adds up to about one of these". The idea of statistics, when collected, is to get the best overall picture you can, which means being as accurate as you can. THEN you can start to understand things from the statistics, but that comes after collection. You seem to want to get rid of statistics, and just get a kind of emotion-based summation of injuries based on your
                  • You might count them as being the same, but they're clearly not the same actual injury.
                    Actually, many times they are. As was pointed out in the original article.

                    Many times, what differentiates between losing a limb and keeping the limb attached is what medical attention is available and how soon it is available.

                    Which is what the article was all about. Injuries that would have resulted in the loss of the limb can be mitigated with the new blood shunt so that the limb is not lost.

                    Try reading the article, okay
                • by Chmcginn (201645)
                  I'm really not getting what you're saying - yes, there's been 500 major amputations, and 9,500 other permanent injuries that prevent someone from returning to active duty.

                  Blind in one eye may or may not be a factor. It depends upon the job. The same with deaf in one ear. The same with limping.

                  Well, that's true - but considering most of the injuries have come from infantry MOS's - any of those injuries is going to be enough to get them an early retirement. (Although I'm not sure about the Army's policy of

            • by lav-chan (815252) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:50PM (#17974730)

              Uh. The same reason football players can't keep playing professionally after they've fucked up their knees?

              Just because it's still connected doesn't mean it's still functional.

      • Re:Only 500? (Score:4, Informative)

        by quigonn (80360) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @05:55PM (#17975814) Homepage
        I bet a lot of the amputations don't count because they were done in the military hospital or Ramstein... just like all dead soldiers. They don't get into the official statistics of US Americans who died in this war when they die outside of Iraq, e.g. in a plane during transportation to Europe, or in a US Army hospital in Europe.
    • Well one of the factors in the smaller size of ammunition these days is that that the smaller rounds cause less immediate death and catastrophic injuries, thus requiring combat troops to treat injured colleagues rather than leave them to their fate. If they are treating injuries then they are not shooting at you and are further demoralised so the thinking goes. Body armour further reduces the injuries, especially for blast & shrapnel damage.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fuego451 (958976)

        Well one of the factors in the smaller size of ammunition these days is that that the smaller rounds cause less immediate death and catastrophic injuries

        Not exactly true. A .223 caliber bullet [wikipedia.org] from an M-16 often causes much more damage than an 7.62mm bullet from an AK-47 because the .223 has a much higher muzzle velocity and, therefore, more energy. Of course, it depends on where on the body the bullet hits as well. A bullet striking bone causes more tissue damage and can be deflect causing further damage.

        As a paramedic in an area with a lot of gangs, .22 cal wounds were very often more serious than those caused by larger calibers.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by bakuun (976228)
          It's not just that higher muzzle velocity gives more damages. It can actually be the other way around, as well.

          While I did military service (in little Sweden), for instance, we quickly learnt that the reason that a 7.62 machine-gun bullet did less damage than a 5.56 assault rifle bullet was that the 7.62 bullet passed cleanly through the tissue. (in the case that it didn't hit anything major, of course.) Having higher weight but about the same speed means that it doesn't slow down as quickly, so it "just

    • Re:Only 500? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:31PM (#17974554)
      So, back in early 2004, I was still working for Uncle sam & wearing a cute little uniform. I got into a (relatively minor, compared to what they went through) accident, and spent a bit of time at Bethesda. While I was in surgery & the ICU, my wife talked to four wives of Marines who had been shipped back to the US in the last week, all of whom were expected to survive. One of them had already lost about half his leg, and two of the remaining were expected to be paralyzed. So that makes me think that this "five hundred" figure is complete limb amputations - the guys who just lost a hand or a foot probably aren't counted in there. Nor are the guys (and some girls) who might be partially paralyzed for the rest of their lives.
    • 500 amputees sounds unlikely until you consider that there have been over 3000 killed. If you assume that a good portion of those 3000 had limbs blown off the number of total amputations would be much higher I am sure.
      • by karnal (22275)
        I think the term "amputate" means that a doctor in a hospital (or someone with instruments of the doctorly type) would be performing the limb seperating.

        I doubt you can count the people who died and lost a limb at the same time; they wouldn't count, right? I guess, unless we have a given of this Shunt actually saving the life (and limb) of a person who is in critical condition on the battlefield.... is that what you're trying to say?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by janeowit (909913) *
      We've been hearing all along that the death toll is so much lower than previous US wars because of advances in trauma care that allow soldiers to survive injuries that were once not survivable, but we're seeing a huge increase in limb loss in the trade off.

      I don't think you are quite getting that right. We are seeing an increase in the PERCENTAGE in the number of limbs amputated, from 1.4% for most of the 20th century to 2.4% in Iraq. The trade off isn't literal, there is a significant decrease in limb, as
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by M4N14C (873188)
      Most IED injuries are traumatic brain injuries. Those are concussions from the shockwave of the blast. 500 soldiers out of 3500 casualties is only 1/7th of the injuries, so why are you bitching about statistics.
    • by Frangible (881728)
      One thing is they now have rather good body armor-- the Interceptor body armor system-- that protects the torso from rifle, handgun fire, and shrapnel. Combined with the helmet, that makes their core relatively safe. Doesn't do much for their limbs, though.

      Further, most IEDs explode upward from the ground, thus hitting the legs first.
    • by gaspyy (514539)
      That's exactly what I've thought.
      American casualties (deaths) in this war are over 3000. Statistically, in any war, the number of wounded/disabled, exceed the number of deaths by a ratio of at least 2 to 1. I've read somewhere a number of about 10,000 American troops wounded. Now, considering that most attacks come via IEDs and RPGs, I'm willing to bet that the actual number of amputees is unfortunately a lot higher than 500. Frankly, 5000 is more like it.

      Too bad we don't think more often of all those who h
    • by david.given (6740)

      Only 500 soldiers have lost limbs since the start of the war? Why does that sound so unlikely?

      Would those be US casualties only, or would they also include Iraqi casualties too? I've noticed that US news reports tend to only report the former.

  • War is ugly. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Is it just another hi-tech gadget to shield yourself from the reality of war? Please, just stop and take you soldiers home, our president Putin is right that the US has overstepped it's national boundaries. Starting wars on tampered evidence, fueling the new nuclear arms race and destroying the MAD balance with missile defense programs. I'm serious, please make your government stop this descent into madness.
    • by Ritchie70 (860516)

      This is not a high tech gadget to "shield from the reality of war." It is a high tech gadget to give those who have had a first hand, up close and personal look at the reality of war a better chance of surviving that reality somewhat more intact.

      And MAD is already shattered. I personally have little fear that the part of the former USSR your President Putin runs is going to launch missiles at the US.

      I do worry about what happened to the nuclear devices the USSR had when it fell apart.

      I worry about

    • by OverlordQ (264228)
      Sorry to burst your bubble, but a Missile Defense program is not to destroy your so-called MAD balance. In a true MAD scenario a Missile Defense program isn't going to do much, it's more for rogue states with minimal weapons like Iran, N.Korea, etc.
      • by Cyberax (705495)
        Then why is it going to be placed near Russia borders?

        USA is going to start another cold war. And that's after Russia has closed radio locators in Cuba and Vietnam ( http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0 0E4D91E3EF932A15753C1A9679C8B63 [nytimes.com] ).
        • by Dravik (699631)
          Because of the path ballistic missiles will take from North Korea or China makes Alaska a good location for counter missile batteries. The proximity to Russia has nothing to do with the location.
          • by Cyberax (705495)
            We're NOT talking about Alaska. We're talking about Poland and Czechia (see http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070122/pl_nm/poland_u sa_missiles_dc [yahoo.com] for example).
            • by Dravik (699631)
              And those countries are in a good location to counter missiles from Iran, or Pakistan. Russia has thousands of ballistic missiles, y'all would still run out of targets long before you ran out of missiles.
              • by Cyberax (705495)
                Nope.

                Intercontinental ballistic rockets from Iran or Pakistan (remember, Pakistan is US ally and USA even provides nuclear technology Pakistan) aimed at the USA will not fly above Poland. Even Pentagon admits it.

                There's no question that this new system is deployed against Russia.
                • by Dravik (699631)
                  No they won't fly above Poland if bound for the US, if bound for Europe they will. Also this project would have to balloon to 1000 times its current size before it would make a dent in Russia's offensive nuclear attack capabilities. The only thing that could effectively scale big enough to deal with Russia's ICBMs are space based counter ICBMs.
                  • by Cyberax (705495)
                    Rockets bound for France or Germany from Iran won't fly over Poland, look at the map.

                    The mere presence of antimissile defense near the Russian border will require Russia to do additional steps to counter this new threat. And this will in turn justify further actions from NATO. And so on.
    • And just how do you propose we 'stop our government' from doing anything? I vote that you make a visit to the USA and do it yourself if you're so eager to make changes and know how to convince an entire government to do things you way.

      I'm waiting.
      • by 49152 (690909)
        Why do you ask when you already know the answer?

        As you said yourself "you vote"!
    • by tonycif (1062912)
      Yes Putin is right we should kill all of the terrorist in the theater as well as the innocent civilians. Then the terrorists might leave the US alone.
    • Hey anything to prop up the dollar.
  • is that they do tend to hunt down inventions like this - bandages that can clot wounds instantly, a shunt that can save a horribly mangled limb from amputation. The army (or navy, etc.) may be focused on making better weapons, but it also does do quite a bit to help its own - including purchasing inventions like this.
    • by Eddi3 (1046882)
      What about Troy Hurtubise' Trojan Suit? You know, This [slashdot.org] one?
      • by maxume (22995)
        I doubt a soldier would be interested in something that impaired his mobility that much. 40 pounds is a lot to wear all day.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      "This device has been used successfully by other countries, and is particularly important to serve our men and women in the armed forces who are seriously injured in combat," FDA devices chief Dr. Daniel Schultz said.

      This really isn't a story about the Army/Navy/Air Force hunting down some new tech & getting it rushed through the FDA.

      Like many medical advances, the testing was done overseas where the costs for medical trials are much lower. With results in hand, the companies get to skip expensive clini

  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:48PM (#17974710) Homepage Journal
    Sure, it would be nice to not be in Iraq, but the fact remains that we're there and we're not pulling out anytime soon. Even if we were pulling out of Iraq immediately, there will be other wars in the world. This technology has nothing to do with politics, so knock it off.

    I'm not that familiar with battlefield medicine, but this seems like a big step forward for it. Anything that helps soldiers (American or otherwise) do their jobs better, protects them, or helps them live better lives after conflict is a good thing.
    • Sure, it would be nice to not be in Iraq, but the fact remains that we're there and we're not pulling out anytime soon.

      Define 'soon'. It's pretty clear that the new head general chap is doing plenty of expectation setting. See the questions in the senate hearings about the alternative plan - "Yes, of course we have a standby plan in case this doesn't work, not that we'll ever need it you understand, and yes it's basically ''get the hell out of Dodge'' (retreat to Kuwait, the Kurdish area, Saudi and back into the green zone. Oh, well, since you ask, I guess about 6-9 months would be about to time to make the call." So wheth

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      Sure, it would be nice to not be in Iraq, but the fact remains that we're there and we're not pulling out anytime soon. Even if we were pulling out of Iraq immediately, there will be other wars in the world. This technology has nothing to do with politics, so knock it off.

      As sad and as sick as it sounds, the quicker American casualties mount, the quicker you guys can get out of the war. No one cares about the hundreds of thousands of dead civilians. They care about their own.

      If 2,500 servicemen died

      • If 2,500 servicemen died on day 18 of the Iraq war, it would have been over by now and 500 American lives would have been saved (not to mention those of the Iraqi civilians).
        You mean Iraqi civilians killed by the US. The power vaccuum left with the removal of Saddam means that many more Iraqi civilians would die in civil war. Most of the violence against Iraqis is being caused by Iraqis
    • by couchslug (175151)
      The self-discipline necessary to stay on-topic evaporates where Iraq is concerned, which is unfortunate because not everything is about that.

      Diverting Slashdot discussions to the war is not going to do fuck all about the war! Nothing, zip, squat, nada, zilch, zero, naught, nil ...you get the idea.

      No matter what side we are on, ranting about Iraq here is a huge waste of time and a denial of service to those who are here to discuss technology that, by the way, has potential application in civilian emergency c
    • by localman (111171)
      This technology has nothing to do with politics, so knock it off.

      Is there anyplace that dissent for a current war should be considered off topic? Really? Really?!?
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @04:43PM (#17975268)
    Whether you are for the war or against it, I sleep better at night knowing that there are men and women who volunteer for service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

    If a serviceman/woman happens to read this and other Slashdot threads, you have my thanks and admiration.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...I sleep better at night knowing that there are men and women who volunteer for service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

      I would sleep better if there were more men and women who refused to serve in Iraq on the grounds that starting a war without international approval is a war crime. I would feel genuinely proud to be American. I'd be like "Yeah, those Nazi soldiers just followed orders but Americans are better. Americans think for themselves and don't let their leaders force them into fighting (and eventually

      • Fuck you, you fucking loser.
      • by localman (111171) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:07AM (#17979092) Homepage
        The anonymous parent post, flagged as flamebait, is dead on. It's just so dead on it's sad. And I'll be proud to be modded down as well.

        I just wish there was some way for the tiny minority who knew full well in advance that this war was a bad idea could have actually stopped it. But that's not how the world works. The hotblooded masses create a mess like this and then when it becomes obvious, they just embitter themselves against those who warned them rather than learn or admit they were wrong. Whatever.

        And of course this is an appropriate venue for this dissent: it's a serious fucking war. It's more important than anything. If you're complaining about the subtleties of message board etiquitte you may want to rethink your priorities.
  • -1 It makes me squeamish (Hey we are geeks right?)
  • Too damned funny, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @11:15PM (#17978258) Homepage Journal
    "Since the start of the Iraq war, more than 500 soldiers have lost limbs, many to injuries suffered in roadside bombings."

    Guess we didn't learn from the landmines of WWII almost 60 fucking years ago, did we? Did D-day slip our minds? War isn't fucking pleasant. Failure to learn from past mistakes only leads to drastic future mistakes.
  • Wow... it's a tube. I'm blown away.

    Does this mean Vint Cerf can get royalties from it, for his prior art?

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly

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