The experience of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan in the use of tourniquets in patients with haemorrhagic shock was described in a recent paper in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
They looked at whether tourniquets were associated with increased survival rates in patients with trauma.
This was a retrospective study with 1413 patients included in the study. 720 patients were included in the tourniquet group. To be included in the tourniquet group, the patient had to have major limb trauma, require a blood transfusion and receive a tourniquet.
Comparing the two groups, the patients who recieved a tourniquet were more severely injured than the control group.
Survival rates were equivalent between the two groups, but there was worse shock and transfusion rates in the tourniquet groups. Intuitively, you would expect the tourniquet group to die at a higher rate than the control group who were not as severely injured.
Take Home Point
The use of tourniquets do not harm patients and may help severely injured patients with exsanguinating limb trauma.
Kragh JF et al. Transfusion for shock in US military casualties with and without tourniquet use. Annals of Emerg Med. 2015;65(3);290-296.