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3 Types of Tourniquets


Tourniquets are medical devices that restrict blood flow to the limbs during surgery. They’re frequently employed in orthopedic and plastic surgeries to minimize perioperative blood loss.

Successful tourniquet application relies on applying circumferential pressure to an extremity in order to occlude distal blood flow. This is achieved by fastening with a strap and then tightening it using an appropriate mechanism that provides a mechanical advantage. 

Tourniquets come in three distinct varieties, depending on their use and context. Here we explore each type and why they’re employed.

Clinical Tourniquet

Clinical tourniquets are commonly employed in emergency medical services to help control bleeding and maintain blood pressure in injured individuals. These devices usually consist of Velcro or another stretchy material for added flexibility.

Utilizing the correct materials is critical for the successful use of a tourniquet. Inappropriate materials can cut into the skin and cause further harm to patients.

Tourniquets are an integral part of trauma care that can save lives when used correctly. Unfortunately, they’re misapplied up to one-quarter of the time and need to be taught correctly.

When searching for a reusable tourniquet, make sure it has been tested and proven to stop blood flow. When purchasing one, check that it has been approved by a relevant authority.

Place an on strap tourniquet about four finger widths from the cubital fossa and tighten until the bleeding stops. Do not remove the tourniquet before emergency responders arrive, as this could lead to additional complications and greater blood loss.

spinning military tourniquet
spinning military tourniquet

Surgical Tourniquet

Surgical tourniquets are used to restrict blood flow from a distal limb during surgery. They’re utilized in many procedures to increase safety and precision when performing extremity surgeries like joint replacements.

Intravenous regional anesthesia also employs these devices to reduce systolic blood pressure during surgery, yet their risks of injury have yet to be fully established.

A surgical tourniquet is an inflated cuff attached around either the upper or lower arm that helps control bleeding and enhance visualizing of the surgical site.

These one-hand operation tourniquets should be tailored to the patient’s limb size and circumference, with at least 3 inches but no more than 6 inches overlapping to guarantee proper inflation and prevent rolling or wrinkling of the underlying tissue.

Even though electronically controlled pneumatic tourniquet instruments have significantly reduced the risk of injury, some potential complications still remain. Nerve damage is possible after prolonged tourniquet inflation or deflation; this numbness or paresis often comes with pain and a poor response to analgesic drugs; additionally, those who experience nerve damage from tourniquet use tend to develop more wound complications as a result.

Emergency Tourniquet

When someone suffers a limb injury that leads to rapid blood loss, using a tourniquet can be helpful in stopping the bleeding until medical assistance arrives. It should be noted though, that not all limb injuries require the use of a tourniquet.

Many people can craft their own tourniquet using everyday items like a belt or piece of clothing. Just ensure the material is at least 1.5 inches wide so it can apply enough pressure to stop bleeding quickly.

When someone is injured, the first step to take is applying direct pressure to the wound. By exerting enough pressure on it, bleeding may slow or stop; however, it’s essential to identify where it originated and attempt to control blood flow.

Military tourniquets are a commonly used first responder device. They come in different models, some featuring locking devices and others not. They can also be used on pets like a dog tourniquet can help save your pet’s life in case of emergencies.


The Caretek is a well-known tourniquet brand that has been used by the military for years. It has an easy ratcheting dial, but with limited uptake, so caution must be exercised when applying pressure to larger limbs as required pressure increases. That being said, this tourniquet has saved lives and should be included in every first aid kit. To learn more about the different types of tourniquets, click here.

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