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WOSU: A Balloon Can Help Save Gunshot Victims

Doctors at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital are using a balloon-like device to help save the lives of certain trauma patients.

The device, resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta, or REBOA for short, is a small catheter with a balloon at the end of it that is used to stop blood loss.

“It's used when (a trauma patient) is in immediate threat of life - that they're bleeding so bad, they could die within minutes," said Chance Spalding, DO, a trauma surgeon at Grant Medical Center in a recent interview with WOSU reporter Debbie Holmes. "It’s a minimally invasive technique that we can go in the groin, much like people get a heart stent, and we can sneak this little catheter into the main blood vessel that exits the heart and we can blow up a balloon that now stops the bleeding from anything below that portion. So it preserves the blood flow to the heart, the lungs, and the brain."

In addition to gun-shot victims, the REBOA can be used for car crash victims and victims of other traumas.

“Specifically, it’s for gunshots to the belly or pelvis region or any trauma that happens from car crashes to the pelvis or belly," Spalding told Holmes. "If it’s a chest trauma or a chest gunshot wound, then those patients typically need surgery and we go in and fix that and not use this balloon.”

Click on the WOSU logo to hear Dr. Spalding’s full interview with WOSU. To learn more about emergency and trauma care at Grant, click here.