This Cartridge of Plastic Beads Can Filter Blood During Surgery

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- CytoSorb, a filter attached to a hospital’s existing blood-pumping equipment, uses a cylindrical cartridge of tiny polymer beads to remove toxins from a patient’s circulatory system. Removing such toxins can reduce inflammation, which if left unchecked can damage tissues and organs.


Vadim Davankov
Age: 81
Adviser to U.S. medical device maker CytoSorbents Corp. and department head at the Russian Academy of Sciences


The technology has been approved in 53 countries, where about 46,000 cartridges have been used. In the European Union, doctors treat sepsis, the deadly bloodstream infection, and traumas including serious burns with them. In the U.S., clinical trials are still under way to prove the filters can reduce the risk of organ failure, stroke, and death in the sickest patients.

Long term

CytoSorbents says there’s potentially a $20 billion market for the therapy if it can expand its use from high-risk conditions to cardiac and other surgeries. 


The public company has a market value of about $450 million. Its development of CytoSorb has also been funded by Darpa, the Pentagon’s research arm; the U.S. Army and Air Force; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institutes of Health; and the German government.

How It Works

① The $1,000 cartridge, about the size of a drinking glass, contains several million polymer beads, each the size of a grain of sand. An attached pump funnels the patient’s blood through the cartridge.

② Blood cells, antibodies, and other essential substances flow around the beads, but toxins and inflammatory proteins, especially those repelled by water, are trapped inside. A typical course of treatment for sepsis requires three to five cartridges, says CytoSorbents Chief Executive Officer Phillip Chan.

Next Steps

Hassan Khouli, chairman of the department of critical care medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, says CytoSorb is a promising concept that requires further study before it’s approved for broad use in the U.S. Questions remain about possible side effects, such as whether the beads unintentionally strip key nutrients or medications from a patient’s blood, he says. CytoSorbents says it will present results in 2020 of a pivotal U.S. trial, which seeks to reduce the incidence of post-op kidney injuries in a group of 400 patients undergoing complex cardiac surgery. For now, U.S. hospitals can get the cartridges only with a special clearance for emergencies. 

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeff Muskus at

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.