In any trauma or code situation adequate fluid access and volume is essential, but what happens when you and your patient are on the way to Mars on a 2 year mission? Assuming IV access is achieved relatively quickly (which is not a trivial point when everything is floating in zero-g), the supply of IV fluid packed at the beginning of the trip could be very limited and the crew physician needs to balance the emergency requirements against something that could go wrong on the rest of the flight. Foreseeing this scenario, Phillip Scarpa and others at NASA are testing a device to make IV fluid out of drinking water with a low mass and low power system. The IntraVenous Fluid Generation (IVGEN) system was launched Monday on NASA’s Discovery space shuttle and will be tested on the International Space Station.
The IVGEN is a suitcase-sized device that produces IV-grade water from available space station drinking water. It filters out microscopic contaminants like heavy metals and toxins. It will be mounted inside the space station’s science glove box during its test, researchers said.
The biggest risk is the formation of bubbles due to the lack of gravity in space.
“Bubbles are probably the biggest concern,” Scarpa said. “Bubbles in IV fluids are dangerous for a patient as well. If entered into the veins, they could cause a stroke by blocking the brain’s blood flow.”
Scarpa’s team devised micron-sized filters to trap and squeeze out the bubbles from the system.
Other than the planned Mars mission, this technology has obvious applications for remote and resource poor medical facilities. With the power and mass requirements of spaceflight this could potentially be something an ambulance or mobile medical site could carry as well.
Story at Space.com: NASA to Test New Medical Device to Help Sick Astronauts in Space…