A Brief History of the Tourniquet
ARMY INST OF SURGICAL RESEARCH FORT SAM HOUSTON TX
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The tourniquet is a device first used in antiquity it has been praised or vilified throughout the ages, as it has been at times life-saving, and at other times limb-threatening.1 It interestingly has become a widely used tool in the current wars of Afghanistan and Iraq by most coalition medics, often with great success. Its current reputation is very positive among foot soldiers. Combat troops are reportedly going out on dangerous patrol missions with tourniquets already in place on extremities, as they wish to be fully ready to respond to extremity bleeding, if and when the mine or the improvised explosive device IED should go off. Some work has even been done on field uniforms, which have tourniquets actually sewn into sleeves, etc., in order to ensure the quickest access and application possible.2 Response times in this current conflict are so rapid and transportation by helicopter is so efficient that prolonged tourniquet times are rare. The data being collected would indicate that we are seeing few tourniquet-induced injuries because they are removed rapidly, and we are definitely saving lives because they are used liberally. The purpose of this report is to review the history of the tourniquet throughout the ages, as it has been modified and improved numerous times by a series of innovative physicians, up to the present day.
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