The device could boost survival and spare injured soldiers from additional pain by plugging wounds faster and more efficiently than gauze, a science magazine reported.

"That is what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops," said John Steinbaugh, former US Army Special Operations medic.

The team used ordinary sponges and cut them into one-centimetre circles. They then injected the bits of sponge into an animal injury.

"The bleeding stopped. Our eyes lit up. We knew we were onto something," said Steinbaugh.

Researchers settled on a sponge made from wood pulp and coated with chitosan, a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance found in shrimp shells.

They added X-shaped markers that make each sponge visible on an x-ray image in order to ensure that no sponges are left inside the body accidentally, the report said.

The sponges expand to fill the entire wound cavity in just 15 seconds, creating enough pressure to stop heavy bleeding.

Since the sponges cling to moist surfaces, they aren't pushed back out of the body by gushing blood.

"By the time you even put a bandage over the wound, the bleeding has already stopped," Steinbaugh said.


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