WVU Medicine trauma surgeons use life-saving device on victim of motorcycle accident

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Surgeons at the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center at WVU Medicine had a recent success with their first use of a resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) device to stop hemorrhaging in the victim of a motorcycle crash. This is the first time this device has been used for this indication at WVU Medicine.

The ER-REBOA catheter
The ER-REBOA™ catheter
Photo courtesy of Prytime Medical

The device, known as an ER-REBOA™ catheter, is made of a thin, flexible tube with a small inflatable balloon that is fed into the femoral artery in the groin in order to reach the aorta, similar to how an angioplasty catheter is introduced to open up blocked coronary arteries in people with heart disease.

“The patient had received extensive truncal trauma, including a pelvic fracture, as a result of the crash,” Jennifer Knight Davis, M.D., director of the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, said. “He had no pulse when he came to us, and the next step would have been chest compressions. Instead, we inserted the ER-REBOA™ catheter, and his blood pressure and heart rate immediately improved.”

The device can be inserted quickly at the bedside through a small puncture in the femoral artery, providing critical time for surgeons to get a patient to the operating room to repair injuries that have caused a severe hemorrhage. Traditionally, these hemorrhages were only treatable through surgical intervention, causing additional pain and blood loss and a longer recovery time for the patient. 

By stopping blood flow to the affected areas, doctors are afforded more time to take the patient to surgery to properly repair the injury. This treatment allows blood to continue circulating to the brain, heart, and lungs, normalizing the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate. Patients who have received treatment using the ER-REBOA™ catheter have had much better outcomes than those who have undergone traditional open procedures.

This device can also be used to control hemorrhage in adult patients in other settings, such as aortic aneurysm surgery, gastrointestinal bleeding, and postpartum hemorrhage. According to manufacturer Prytime Medical, the ER-REBOA™ catheter is currently used in more than 250 hospitals internationally.

“This device greatly increases the patients’ chance of survival,” Dr. Knight Davis, who performed the procedure with Uzer Khan, M.D., said. “It is an excellent alternative to other procedures that carry a much higher rate of complications and mortality. The better we can control blood loss before we can get them into an operating room and repair the damage, the better the outcome.”