Quick cuts: A comparative study of two tools for ring tourniquet removal

Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Aug:46:238-240. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.07.039. Epub 2020 Jul 25.


Background: Ring tourniquet occurs when a ring becomes entrapped due to swelling or trauma. As the finger expands the blood flow restriction causes additional swelling, which can lead to nerve damage and other complications. Ring tourniquet can be an emergency that requires rapid ring removal. Standard devices for ring removal have been described but rarely tested. We conducted a randomized study to compare removal time, user and participant satisfaction and complications between a motorized diamond disc ring cutter (MDDRC) and a ring cutter attached to trauma shears (TS).

Methods: In pairs, emergency medicine providers removed rings using both devices and wore randomized rings to be removed (silver or steel). Each effort was timed from initiation to removal. After each effort both user and subject rated their satisfaction with the device, using a visual analog scale and reported any complications. Median and interquartile ranges were generated for the primary and secondary outcomes with 95% confidence intervals where applicable. Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests were calculated with a = 0.05 to compare removal time and secondary outcomes between the two tools.

Results: Thirty subjects completed the study. Median time to ring removal was significantly lower with the TS compared to the MDDRC (7.7 vs 67.0 s, p < .0001). Device user satisfaction (9.7/10 vs 3.8/10, p < .0001) and participant satisfaction (9.7/10 vs 6.8/10, p < .0001) were significantly higher with the TS, while participant discomfort was significantly lower with the TS (0.0/10 vs 2.2/10, p < .0001).

Conclusion: This study is the first to compare efficacy, satisfaction and complications of two standard tools for removal of ring tourniquets. The TS took significantly less time than the GEM MDDRC and demonstrated significantly better satisfaction for both the ring wearer and ring remover.

Keywords: Ring removal; Ring tourniquet.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Device Removal / instrumentation*
  • Fingers / blood supply*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Jewelry / adverse effects*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Tourniquets*