Back to Basics: Pneumatic Tourniquet Use

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Pneumatic tourniquets are commonly used in surgeries involving the limbs to achieve a nearly bloodless surgery and an optimal operating field or when administering regional anesthesia during surgery on a limb. Complications can arise from the use of tourniquets, including nerve injuries, pain, compartment syndrome, pressure injuries, chemical burns, and tissue necrosis. More serious injuries—including deep vein thrombosis, thermal damage to tissues, severe ischemic injuries, and rhabdomyolysis—also can occur. Therefore, it is important for perioperative team members to understand how to use pneumatic tourniquets effectively and safely to provide the best possible care to patients. This article addresses the safety risks to patients when using pneumatic tourniquets and optimal safe use of these devices.

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