The November 28, 2016 edition of The New Yorker reports that Baltimore’s Shock Trauma recently completed a trial of emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), a procedure that may be able to save patients who otherwise would die from exsanguination. It’s a procedure wherein the chest cavity of a bleeding patient is pumped full of ice-cold saline. The procedure drops the patient’s brain temperature into the lower fifties and puts the body into a state of suspended animation for up to an hour while surgeons can repair bullet holes and other injuries.
EPR “has long been proved successful in animal experiments, but overcoming the institutional, logistical, and ethical obstacles to performing it on a human being has taken more than a decade,” reports Nicola Twilley, author of The New Yorker article. Dr. Sam Tisherman directed the EPR trial–he began work related to the procedure while at the University of Pittsburgh. Continuing the work of Dr. Peter Safar, his mentor and one of the founding fathers of resuscitation science, Dr. Tisherman has been joined in his pursuit by many colleagues across the United States throughout the years.
“In the United States, between thirty and forty thousand people a year bleed to death from fixable injuries,” says Twilley. “Ultimately, if the technique does evolve as Tisherman envisages, it will simply become the next step for treatment after CPR has failed, used to buy time and prevent brain death.”
It will likely be two years before the results from the trial can be made public.
Read the full, amazing story about how the research unfolded over three decades to make this procedure possible.