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Ryan the privateer is tragically dying on the battlefield, bleeding wounds all over his body. As he sees the light fading away in the memories of his childhood, his faithful cabin boy Gumptree runs in the knit... nick of time to save him, holding a medical (not magical) spray can. Will the spray be enough to see his wife Marie Sue, who bears his child? Will Jack at the lantern be able to see their brother ag... Uh, what? Less drama and more facts? Oh... Okay.

So... Quite a simple question!(?) Are there known technics using sprays to close bleeding wounds as quickly as possible? I don't mean disinfect it like sprays you have in your medical locket, but actually prevent bleeding and stabilize a patient? Here's the traditional conditions list that I'd like to see ticked and tocked :

  • It should close up wounds before the patient bleeds out and die, obviously.
  • It shall be able to get rid of quite severe cuts, more the ones you get from a knife fight with a dangerous robber than a rumble against the carrots and potatoes of your diner.
  • It should help as much as possible in the process of healing. Disinfectant, regenerative layer... I don't know, your call!
  • It goes in pair with the above, you should be able to remove the stitch (if there is one) one time or another.
  • The spray should be as easy to use as almost any spray. Point at the wound, and press.
  • It's not that important for me if that spray is less cost-efficient than bandages. Well, unless you need gold and diamond dust to make it work, in which case I may reconsider that.
  • Bonus if the component closing the wound is flexible and allows some degrees of freedom after using it.

Note that I wish some science-based answers, ideally with some source to support it. No magic, and no far-away science-fiction, that's too easy otherwise :). Also, if you think it is not possible, tell why!

So, will Ryan see his child grows? Will he be able to tell Marie that he has developed feelings for Marty Stew the obviously beautiful cook? The answers are yours to say!

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    $\begingroup$ A lot of wounds have complex types of damage that actually need some repair and reconnection to heal properly. Any of these things will at bet be temporary measures to stabilize a patient until they can get to a proper hospital. That being said, these things are being developed for first responders and the military. But it's what you can't see and reach that's going to kill you. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Dec 14 '20 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ You mean like the Nexcare No-Sting Liquid Bandage or the Medi-First 45017 Bandage Spray? (Link goes to Amazon.) (In general search for spray bandage.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 14 '20 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ @DWKraus Yes, I'm looking to stabilize someone, more than to heal on the long term. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 14 '20 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP I didn't know those, don't think they are sold in my country. Aren't they just for small wounds? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 14 '20 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena "Pansement Spray". Makers like Cerotto, Hanslplast, Urgo. some of them are better than others (contains celulose for binding or requring alcohol to remove) to close the wound while others are made for disifection and short-time protection. $\endgroup$ Dec 15 '20 at 11:25
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YES, of course, why would we stop doing so?

Since 1966, spray application of cynoacrylate (superglue) has been used for battlefield treatment of serious bleeding injuries. Yes, up to and including the "sucking chest wound" class of penetrative wounds.

It very rapidly seals wounds, binds on even actively bleeding surfaces, and is reasonably nontoxic.

The main impediment to the bulk use of superglue in emergency wound treatment is that the setting process of the material is somewhat exothermic, and in the quantities needed on a large wound this can lead to heat burns.

References: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/history/history-of-the-super-glue.html

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/a25067/the-surprising-military-history-of-superglue/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanoacrylate

Disadvantages:

  • A spray application does nothing to cleanse a wound. Any dirt, contamination, even larger debris will not only remain in the wound, but become glue in as semi-permanent features!
  • A spray can does nothing to diagnose the problem, it is only as medically trained as the person holding it.
  • Once applied, it largely prevents further treatment until removed, which is not trivial.
  • Because it is a SURFACE spray, it efficiently stops surface bleeding. Unless you really lever the stuff in, it will not help much for internal injuries and bleeding.

This will be true regardless of the healing abilities of the spray. Unless it becomes a true 100% cure-everything, it will be best used as emergency field treatment, only.

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    $\begingroup$ Yep, develop that a bit further and we're good to go1! $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Dec 15 '20 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ Another disadvantage is that after a day it itches like hell and you have a hard time getting it ever off again... (of course, still preferable to dying) $\endgroup$
    – Aganju
    Dec 15 '20 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Aganju in my personal experience it comes of easily, after about 3 days, if adheres to skin (by flaking off one layer of skin). When in contact with fat or muscle tissue, that goes up to about 10 days. And much less itching than normal stitches or contact bandages for open wounds. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Dec 15 '20 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisH If you take an overview of the article, the two detailed cases involved cotton as an exothermic catalyst. If you read further, the two old year boy had glue on his cheek, but without burn :). So just don't spray super glue on clothes! $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 17 '20 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena yes, and don't wear cotton gloves when using it on delicate things. $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Dec 17 '20 at 18:54
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Injectable sponges

Morgan has already mentioned XStat which was developed in collaboration with the US military for gunshot wounds. It's not a spray can but is a very easy to use syringe which fills the wound with sponges to keep the wounded person stable for up to 4 hours.

XStat illustration

Expanding Foam

Another US Military funded device (funded by DARPA)is ResQFoam which is designed to apply pressure to control severe haemorrhaging within the abdominal cavity by rapidly expanding. This treatment is currently being trialled. Again this is applied using a syringe rather than a spray can.

ResQFoam illustration

TRAUMAGEL under development by Cresilon is another expanding foam treatment but intended for smaller wounds. It rapidly adheres to the surface of the wound to stop bleeding and is derived from sugars in brown algae. They have some compelling videos showing blood flow from arteries being stopped when the gel is applied. Again this is applied to the wound using a basic syringe rather than a spray can.

TRAUMAGEL illustration

Self-assembling barriers

Arch Therapeutics have developed a self-assembling peptide gel which rapidly forms a biocompatible barrier when exposed to a wound. The amino acids in the gel bond together to form an impermeable barrier which adheres to the surface of the wound and prevents bleeding. The barrier allows gas transfer so can be left on indefinitely during healing and is eventually broken down by the body although for severe trauma would likely still require surgery. Beneficially, the barrier is transparent so the status of the wound can be assessed. This is also applied using a syringe rather than a spray can and is intended for smaller wounds but maybe it could be useful for a gunshot wound.

Arch Therapeutics illustration

What about spray cans?

All of the treatments I've come across use syringes and I suspect this is because they allow for controlled delivery of the wound closure treatment. In the case where the treatment is adhesive, the patient may not be able to be operated on as quickly and their condition may not be as apparent if the skin around the wound is also covered in the treatment. Additionally, most of these treatments are intended for internal bleeding where tourniquets or other forms of external pressure application aren't able to stop the bleeding. In these situations it's important that the treatment is administered into the site of the wound and a syringe is designed specifically for that purpose while a spray can is not. I suppose it may be feasible to use a spray can with a fine nozzle (image below) but you may then run the risk of injecting air into the wound, causing a gas embolism.

Spray can with precision nozzle

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    $\begingroup$ It's not really what I was looking for, but still I like the insight! Indeed, syringes are best suited for internal stuff. Do the person holding the syringe needs to have a basic training to put the gel/foam/sponge at the right place, or is it just "put it where you see bad things"? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 15 '20 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ All of the treatments I posted are intended to be used by a trained medical professional but that's principally a regulatory requirement. The risk of completely misapplying the foam/gel etc. and not stemming the bleeding would result in death for the injured patient and a (brief!) medical diagnosis would be required before deciding to use one of the treatments to rule out simply applying external pressure. If you watch the fairly gory video for TRAUMAGEL you'll see application is really as simple as squirt it where you see gushing blood. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Dec 15 '20 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena, first aid tools like this are most useful if they can be applied quickly to stabilize the wounded, so it can be expected at least some soldiers in every unit will get the training to use them. And that it applies to spray cans as well—the user needs to at least be able to recognize whether it is appropriate for the wound. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Dec 15 '20 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec's right - these aren't covered in a 2-day outdoors (i.e. expecting to be far from help) first aid course, but could be expected to be in the most basic combat first aid, or perhaps expedition medicine training. $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Dec 16 '20 at 14:35
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It should be possible. So-called "liquid bandages" are already possible and available. Their use is limited to small wounds, but they are a thing that is used. You could add some handwavium/technological advancements that make their use possible on larger wounds.

There are also cyanoacrylates, which are used to mend deeper wounds, post-surgery or even to mend things like bones and turtle shells in veterinary. Cyanoacrylates were also used during Vietnam War for the exact function that you are describing, limiting bleeding in wounded soldiers so that they could be transported to hospitals.

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  • $\begingroup$ Especially useful for protecting small wounds on soft, squishy parts of the body where a traditional flat bandage would not stay on very easily. Wouldn't use them for something more serious like a gunshot wound though - the real problem there is internal bleeding. $\endgroup$ Dec 15 '20 at 19:26
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Oh boy are there a world of possibilities for you! So I’ll split this answer in two parts, one dealing with the exact word of your question, and another dealing with the spirit of the question. Here we go!


Exactly what you asked for

So the other answers are all good possibilities here, so I’ll try to add one of my own. Firstly, you will almost certainly need a three part system for this to work. Part one is a debriding spray, basically something that removes debris such as foreign objects or toxic substances from the wound. Saline works great. Next you will need a stronger disinfectant and you’ll probably want a painkiller mixed in with it, think military grade Neosporin spray. Finally, and what you are looking for, is a way to close the wound. So hold on, cause I’m about to blow your mind. Technically speaking, you can close a severe wound with super glue. It isn’t exactly ideal, but it does work. This is especially true if you need a quick fix and you can get your buddy to a medic later. So basically, an aerosol super glue will do it. You may also want to add an aerosol latex spray or some type of liquid bandage to cover the wound and keep it shut.


The spirit of the question

3D printing!

...

You probably want more than that.

Ok so there is a huge movement in medicine lately with using bio materials to print a 3D lattice that encourages human tissue growth. So you could literally print synthetic skin that encourages real skin and muscle to grow across it. Combine that with a bandage and you get a closed wound and a faster healing process! Yay! This technology is completely possible right now, though it isn’t fully realized yet. It’s not hard to imagine something like a MAS*H clinic just off the front line being equipped with 3D printers for this exact reason.


As for economic feasibility, I don’t know what the exact costs would be but the spray method would be relatively cheap, and I don’t think it would be unreasonable at all to think that a clinic could be equipped with 3D printers for this purpose.

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    $\begingroup$ There's a stem cell powder they're testing for helping wounds heal faster. Maybe that could be put in the printer with the lattice material. $\endgroup$
    – Morgan
    Dec 15 '20 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I’ve seen some of the research on that! There’s also a stem cell impregnated 3D lattice that helps the cells differentiate into whatever type you need. It’s really fascinating stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Dec 15 '20 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, depending on the complexity of the lattice, finding a 3D printer should be cheap enough. I note your idea for long term healing! $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 15 '20 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ 3D printing is really really really really really really really slow. Not as slow as continental drift, but much slower than people die from gunshot wounds. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Dec 16 '20 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ Well what I figured is you stabilize them in the field, take them back to the MASH unit, do some proper wound care, and then apply the 3D printed “mesh.” $\endgroup$
    – Nick
    Dec 16 '20 at 18:58
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It doesn't come in a spray I think, but this is just basically Celox, Quik Clot, or WoundSeal granduals. You can get stuff like that at your local Walmart sporting goods section.

https://www.outdoorsafety.net/woundseal

https://www.celoxmedical.com/product-sector/global/emergency-medical-services-global/

Then for penetrative wounds you have XStat, which injects the person with sponges.

https://www.popsci.com/article/technology/how-simple-new-invention-seals-gunshot-wound-15-seconds/

Also: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antihemorrhagic

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    $\begingroup$ I've seen spray can versions of this (sprays the stuff as a powder.) There's a downside to that, though--it's pretty much useless if it's too windy. $\endgroup$ Dec 15 '20 at 22:07
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Closing a bleeding wound is quite simple. Since our bodies lack any fancy regeneration capability, all they do is physically close the gap where the blood is trying to escape. If this spray is filled with some sort of substance that can adhere to the skin and dry fast in contact with air, as to create a barrier for the blood, it can "close" the wound. You can think of it as a second layer of skin.

But there are factors that make it a little harder: it can not be toxic, it has to dry really fast as to not let the blood dig his way out, it has to stick on the skin really hard and it has to be impermeable.

I don't think there is such material in the real world so far, but since you asked for a technic, that's it. It must be possible to be made with some synthetic material or maybe latex, so I wouldn't say is some far away sci-fi. I had a plastic glue sticked to my arm once and it seems pretty stucked and impermeable. But on the good side, if is toxic but just a little it may disinfect the wound

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    $\begingroup$ Feel free to use this in your answer. Fibrin glue causes instant clotting and is used often for surgical use, but is being adapted for military use (it currently has stability issues). jnjmedicaldevices.com/en-US/product/… $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Dec 15 '20 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ Good point for telling out the conditions you need to achieve in overall and the coagulation process. Clarifies things. On the part of the blood "digging his way out", is it because of the blood pressure/pulse breaking through the barrier? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 15 '20 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Torliena Yes, while the barrier is not yet solidified the blood pressure will just push it trying to make its way out. $\endgroup$
    – LuizPSR
    Dec 15 '20 at 22:13
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I don't have enough reputation to comment (T^T) but adding to PcMan's comment: a newer emerging technology that adds to it is snake venom proteins intended to cause clotting in the blood. As because of the topical application, rather than travel in the blood stream it instead causes faster coagulation allowing blood loss to be stopped quickly until a more permanent solution is achieved.

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