Nerve Palsies Following Prolonged Use of Limb Tourniquets
G. Volpin, R. Said, W. Simri, B. Grimberg, M. Daniel
Depts. of Orthopedic Surgery and Neurology, Western Galilee Hospital, Nahariya
Nerve paralysis following the use of tourniquets, regular or pneumatic, for limb surgery is rare. We describe a 19-year-old male soldier who had tourniquets applied for 3 1/4 hours to his arm and both legs due to penetrating injuries. As a result, he suffered palsy of the radial nerve and both common peroneal nerves. Nerve palsy in such cases has not been described in the literature. It is not clear whether the cause is direct mechanical pressure on the nerve, nerve ischemia, or a combination of both.
We recommend that tourniquets should not be used continuously for more than 2 hours. If evacuation of the injured is delayed, the medical team should consider loosening tourniquets for short intervals or changing for a pressure bandage. This is providing the patient's condition is stable and bleeding does not start again on release of the tourniquet.