Junctional Tourniquet Use During Combat Operations in Afghanistan: The Prehospital Trauma Registry Experience

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Schauer SG, April MD, Fisher AD, Cunningham CW, Gurney J 18(2). 71 - 74 (Journal Article)

Background: Hemorrhage is the leading cause of potentially preventable death on the battlefield. Although the resurgence of limb tourniquets revolutionized hemorrhage control in combat casualties in the recent conflicts, the mortality rate for patients with junctional hemorrhage is still high. Junctional tourniquets (JTQs) offer a mechanism to address the high mortality rate. The success of these devices in the combat setting is unclear given a dearth of existing data. Methods: From the Prehospital Trauma Registry (PHTR) and the Department of Defense Trauma Registry, we extracted cases of JTQ use in Afghanistan. Results: We identified 13 uses of a JTQ. We excluded one case in which an improvised pelvic binder was used. Of the remaining 12 cases of JTQ use, seven had documented success of hemorrhage control, three failed to control hemorrhage, and two were missing documentation regarding success or failure. Conclusion: We report 12 cases of prehospital use of JTQ in Afghanistan. The findings from this case series suggest these devices may have some utility in achieving hemorrhage control strictly at junctional sites (e.g., inguinal creases). However, they also highlight device limitations. This analysis demonstrates the need for continued improvements in technologies for junctional hemorrhage control, prehospital documentation, data fidelity and collection, as well as training and sustainment of the training for utilization of prehospital hemorrhage control techniques.

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