Researchers at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center want to try a new procedure that could prolong the lives of gunshot or stabing victims arriving at emergency rooms in cardiac arrest.
When a victim is in cardiac arrest, doctors have mere minutes to open the patient's chest and wrap their hands around the heart to get it pumping again. About 95 percent die in those scenarios, the Baltimore Sun reports.
To buy a few more moments for the patients, researchers want to start a study where they can drop the body temperature of a victim to 50 degrees, preserve the heart, brain and other organs while fixing injuries, and then warm and revive the patient before the organs shut down, the newspaper reports.
"The biggest thing in this situation is, once the heart stops no oxygen or blood flows to vital organs,'' said Dr. Samuel Tisherman, a principal investigator of the study and professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Every second, every minute counts in terms of vital organs now suffering because there is no oxygen.''
The Army has funded the investigation of the treatment.
Doctors face a challenge, however. Researchers say if unconscious patients can't consent to the procedure, they would need to get the community's support instead of permission from individuals. This process is called community consultation.
Researchers will be asking healthy members of the community if they would be open to the treatment. Over the next few weeks, researchers will visit community meetings, church events and other gatherings to sell people on the study.
"This could really save a lot of lives,'' said Dr. Thomas Scalea, the chief physician at Shock Trauma. "In any of the complicated trauma trials, unless you do this, you will just never know what works best.''