Ever since the first caveman ran through an adversary with a pointy stick, battlefield medicine has wrestled with the problem of blood loss from cutting and penetration. And while tourniquets can stop blood loss from an extremity, little can be done about large wounds to the chest and abdomen. That’s where the TourniCath comes in.

Developed by a company called Cardio Command, the TourniCath consists of a small balloon attached to a pump, When someone receives a shrapnel or bullet wound to the body, the TourniCath can be inserted into the wound and inflated, plugging up the hole. The device can be deployed in 90 seconds, and stops blood loss almost as well as a tourniquet. A soft coating allows the Tournicath to fit into the specific shape of different wounds.

However, there are some drawbacks. A misused TourniCath could over-inflate, expanding the size of the wound. Additionally, if the device isn’t inserted into the chest cavity properly, vital organs could be crushed when the balloon inflates.

With the military estimating that 80 percent of all deaths on the battlefield are preventable, a light, easily deployed device like the TourniCath could find its way into every soldier’s kit. But further testing is needed to iron out some of the problems mentioned above.

Technology Review