Aberdeen university investigates treatment to save crash victims

A pioneering emergency treatment that could save the lives of car crash victims is being trialled by the University of Aberdeen.

The National Institute of Health Research health technology assessment board is funding the £1.1 million project, which it’s hoped will help patients with life-threatening bleeding injuries.

The technique is called REBOA (Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta) and works by temporarily stopping blood flow to the lower part of the body so that critically-ill patients can be taken to the operating theatre.

Such injuries are often seen in car crash victims and are the most common cause of preventable death in trauma patients.

People who are not treated quickly can often bleed to death.

A balloon-type device is inserted through the groin, into the body’s main artery.

Once above the location of the injury, the balloon is inflated, blocking the artery to stop the blood flow to the injured parts of the body and restricting the damage.

The aim is to keep the blood around the vital organs, namely the heart and brain.

Jan Jansen, honorary senior clinical lecturer at the university and the chief investigator of the study, said it will only be used in “extreme cases”, but is vitally important.

He said: “This trial will provide evidence that either supports or refutes that conception.

“Cutting off blood from half the body can only be done for so long and you have to deal with the consequences of that but with injuries this severe it can be a trade-off worth making.

“Many in the medical profession believe it will be a tool that helps save more lives.”

The trial will take place across 10 major trauma centres in England over four years. It’s estimated around 120 patients may be treated during that period.

The technique is already being used in the Royal London Hospital and by the London Air Ambulance.