Briefs: Ice slurries, heart attack victims and surgery patients

In cardiac arrest victims, without fresh oxygen from blood pumped through the body, brain cells start to die in just minutes. Within 10-20 minutes after the heart stops beating, even if doctors can get the heart beating again, the brain has died. Surgeons at the University of Chicago Medical Center and researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are developing a new technique using an ice slurry technology to reduce the brain and other organs' demand for oxygen, giving doctors extra time to diagnose and treat critical patients in emergencies. Argonne researchers have designed and patented the equipment used to produce ice slurry used to quickly chill the targeted organ. This cooling reduces an organ's need for oxygen, thus slowing the rate at which cells asphyxiate. Recently, Kasza and colleagues Yue Wu, Adrian Tentner, and Paul Fischer have teamed up with University of Chicago surgeons under BIASE, to further develop and demonstrate the use of ice slurries for protective cooling during several types of surgical applications for ice slurry cooling: minimally invasive laparoscopic kidney surgery; cardiovascular surgery; and surgery that would otherwise risk neurological damage. Researchers are also working on ways of using slurry to stabilize soldiers who sustain severe injuries on the battlefield. Since troops in battle lack access to immediate and sophisticated medical care, these casualties have up until now been almost universally fatal. Many medical researchers believe that by chilling the body's core to just a few degrees above freezing, doctors can keep patients in temporary stasis until they can receive the necessary medical intervention. In order to more efficiently and safely introduce the slurry into a patient's body for a given application, researchers have begun to use 3-dimensional models and computer simulation to analyse the thermal interaction between slurry and tissue.