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Pediatr Surg Int. 2003 Oct;19(8):598-600. Epub 2003 Oct 10.

Treatment of the toe tourniquet syndrome in infants.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, The E. Wolfson Medical Center, P.O. Box 5, 58100 Holon, Israel.



The "toe tourniquet syndrome" is the circumferential strangulation by human hair or fibers of one or more toes in infants, which may induce prolonged ischemic injury and tissue necrosis. Release of the strangulation is mandatory to avoid autoamputation of the digit. We recently encountered several incompletely treated cases and would like to emphasize the effective method of treatment.


A retrospective analysis of pediatric emergency department records of patients treated for "toe tourniquet syndrome" during 1990 to 2001 was performed. Patients undergo a short, longitudinal, deep incision over the area of strangulation on the dorsal aspect of the toe, until the phalanx bone, which allows the complete section of the constricting fibers to be removed without injury to the anatomical structures of the toe.


Twenty-one infants (12 boys and nine girls), aged 0-11 months (average 4.6 months), were treated for tourniquet syndrome of one (15 infants) or two (six patients) toes. In 12 patients (57.1%) the right foot was involved. Eight patients (38.1%) had undergone an attempt in the previous few days to release constriction. No complications were encountered.


The above-described technique is simple and safe and secures the complete release of the strangulation by removal of all hairs or fibers without injury to the anatomical structures of the toe.

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