Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Lawerence Synett
Telephone: 412-647-9816
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9777

Pitt Team Receives $2.5 million in DOD Funds for First Retrievable Vascular Stent

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 30, 2016 – Researchers at the UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery and University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have been awarded a four-year, $2.5 million contract from U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Combat Casualty Care, for further development of a retrievable stent to treat noncompressible hemorrhages, a major cause of mortality among servicemen and women, as well as civilian gunshot victims.
“A well-known principle of first aid for bleeding is to apply pressure to the bleeding site,” said Bryan W. Tillman, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of vascular surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, and principal investigator on the project. “Unfortunately, for injuries within the chest and abdomen, this maneuver is not effective, and death rates exceed 80 percent due to massive bleeding in a very short time.”
The proposal, “A Rapid, Temporary Stent for Hemorrhagic Injuries of the Torso,” allows for refinement of a novel stent that can be rapidly placed by non-vascular physicians with minimal training. The system uses radiofrequency tags similar to the microchips used to identify pets. A handheld device is used by physicians to help place the tagged stent in a blood vessel, simplifying positioning and replacing bulky and often unavailable X-ray equipment.
“The absence of immediate vascular expertise and X-ray imaging on the battlefield or even in some hospitals remains a major obstacle to treat hemorrhages,” Dr. Tillman said. “What is needed is a way to rapidly control massive bleeding until a patient can be transported to a proper medical facility or to a properly equipped vascular hybrid room.”
As the first fully retrievable vascular stent, the proposed device can be removed at the time of permanent repair by skilled vascular surgeons with dedicated imaging equipment. A prototype of the stent was developed and successfully tested by UPMC as a part of the DOD application for funding.
“This device will be used to save the lives of critically wounded soldiers until they can be transported to a major medical facility,” Dr. Tillman said. “We expect that this same technology also will be used in trauma bays when vascular expertise or state-of-the-art hybrid operating suites are not immediately available to rescue civilian patients with life-threatening traumatic injuries of the liver and large vessels.”  
Funding for the project (No. W81XWH-16-2-0062) began this month. Others involved include Youngjae Chun, Ph.D., assistant professor of industrial engineering/bioengineering; William Clark, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and Sung Kwon Cho, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, all at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |