Life Over Limb: Why Not Both? Revisiting Tourniquet Practices Based on Lessons Learned From the War in Ukraine


Patterson J, Bryan RT, Turconi M, Leiner A, Plackett TP, Rhodes LL, Sciulli L, Donnelly S, Reynolds CW, Leanza J, Fisher AD, Kushnir T, Artemenko V, Ward KR, Holcomb JB, Schmitzberger FF 99(5). 0 (Journal Article)

The use of tourniquets for life-threatening limb hemorrhage is standard of care in military and civilian medicine. The United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DoD) Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) guidelines, as part of the Joint Trauma System, support the application of tourniquets within a structured system reliant on highly trained medics and expeditious evacuation. Current practices by entities such as the DoD and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are supported by evidence collected in counter-insurgency operations and other conflicts in which transport times to care rarely went beyond one hour, and casualty rates and tactical situations rarely exceeded capabilities. Tourniquets cause complications when misused or utilized for prolonged durations, and in near-peer or peer-peer conflicts, contested airspace and the impact of high-attrition warfare may increase time to definitive care and limit training resources. We present a series of cases from the war in Ukraine that suggest tourniquet practices are contributing to complications such as limb amputation, overall morbidity and mortality, and increased burden on the medical system. We discuss factors that contribute to this phenomenon and propose interventions for use in current and future similar contexts, with the ultimate goal of reducing morbidity and mortality.

  • Marca: Breakaway Media, LLC

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