Adult Tourniquet for Use in School-Age Emergencies

H Theodore Harcke, Luke L Lawrence, Emily W Gripp, Heidi H Kecskemethy, Richard W Kruse, Stephen G Murphy
Pediatrics 2019, 143 (6)

BACKGROUND: Gunshot injuries are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the pediatric population. The Pediatric Trauma Society supports the use of tourniquets for exsanguinating hemorrhage in severe extremity trauma. The Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) used with success in adults has not been prospectively tested in children. Our objective with this study was to determine if the CAT is successful in arresting extremity arterial blood flow in school-aged children.

METHODS: Sixty school-aged volunteers (ages 6-16 years) recruited by age cohort had the CAT applied to an upper arm and thigh while peripheral pulse was monitored by Doppler. The number of windlass turns (maximum allowed: 3 [1080°]) required to arrest arterial pulse was recorded. Success was analyzed by BMI percentile for age and extremity circumference.

RESULTS: The CAT was successful in occluding arterial blood flow as detected by Doppler pulse in all 60 (100%) of the upper extremities tested. In the lower extremity, 56 (93%) had successful occlusion. The 3-turn maximum allowed by the protocol was not adequate in some obese, older subjects (BMI >30). In both the upper and lower extremity, the number of turns required to occlude blood flow gradually increased with an increase in arm and thigh circumference.

CONCLUSIONS: Prospective testing of a cohort of school-aged children 6 to 16 years revealed the CAT tourniquet to be suitable for use in both the upper and lower extremity.

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