Pneumatic tourniquets in extremity surgery

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. Sep-Oct 2001;9(5):345-51. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200109000-00008.


Pneumatic tourniquets maintain a relatively bloodless field during extremity surgery, minimize blood loss, aid identification of vital structures, and expedite the procedure. However, they may induce an ischemia-reperfusion injury with potentially harmful local and systemic consequences. Modern pneumatic tourniquets are designed with mechanisms to regulate and maintain pressure. Routine maintenance helps ensure that these systems are working properly. The complications of tourniquet use include postoperative swelling, delay of recovery of muscle power, compression neurapraxia, wound hematoma with the potential for infection, vascular injury, tissue necrosis, and compartment syndrome. Systemic complications can also occur. The incidence of complications can be minimized by use of wider tourniquets, careful preoperative patient evaluation, and adherence to accepted principles of tourniquet use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emergencies
  • Extremities / surgery*
  • Hemostasis, Surgical* / adverse effects
  • Hemostasis, Surgical* / instrumentation
  • Hemostasis, Surgical* / methods
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Reperfusion Injury / etiology
  • Tourniquets* / adverse effects