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J Perioper Pract. 2010 Feb;20(2):55-8.

Tourniquet failure during total knee replacement due to arterial calcification: case report and review of the literature.

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Department of Trauma & Orthopaedics, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ.


Use of a tourniquet for performing surgery in order to create a bloodless surgical field and reduce blood loss has been in use for many years. Tourniquets may fail perioperatively for various reasons, leading to ongoing bleeding. An important cause of tourniquet failure is calcification of the underlying artery. A patient undergoing total knee replacement surgery in whom the tourniquet failed, secondary to femoral artery calcification is reported. The implications of tourniquet use in patients with arterial calcification, including acute distal ischaemia, aneurysm formation and vessel fracture will be discussed. Recommendations include: thorough vascular assessment of all patients preoperatively, awareness of the possibility of tourniquet failure particularly in vasculopaths, and the provision of an alternative perioperative management plan such as use of a cell saver device, should the tourniquet fail.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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