Patient Care | Trauma

The Facts & Details About Different Types of Tourniquets

01 / 08

Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT): Multiple generations

<p><em>North American Rescue Products</em><br /> <br /> The CAT was one of the first manufactured tourniquets and thus is one of the most common used by the military, and it’s saved countless lives. There are many generations of the CAT. Users should assure they’re utilizing the most current version as it corrects some of the performance issues from earlier generations. The tourniquet strap comes completely apart to place around a limb, but it’s a closed-loop system that has only a limited three-inch uptake. This means users must tightly secure the tourniquet strap to the limb prior to engaging the plastic windlass. Additionally, according to the manufacturer, for proper application the tourniquet strap must be through the plastic buckle differently depending on whether it’s being used on an upper or lower extremity. The strap is secured on itself with Velcro, and there is one locking point for the windlass on this device.</p>

02 / 08

Mechanical Advantage Tourniquet (MAT)

<p><em>Pyng Medical</em><br /> <br /> This device is constructed of plastic preformed into a “C” shape to be applied around the limb. As such, it comes in two sizes: one for the arm and one for the leg. It’s a closed-loop system where the strap is easily removed for application and simply hooks back on for application. The internal mechanism for tightening the tourniquet is a plastic dial that, when turned, draws up a length of cord inside the tourniquet cuff. As such, it only has limited uptake so the tourniquet strap must be tightly applied prior to engaging the internal mechanism. This tourniquet is easily released by either lifting the plastic hook that locks down the strap, or by pressing the release button on the side of the device.</p>

03 / 08

Emergency Medical Tourniquet (EMT)

<p><em>Delphi Products</em><br /> <br /> This tourniquet is a pneumatic tourniquet that closely resembles a blood pressure cuff with a more robust securing mechanism. It’s an open-loop system that is easily applied and will compress even if loose on the limb. Unlike a blood pressure cuff, the pneumatic bladder in the EMT is reinforced to prevent loss of air when it’s inflated, allowing pressure to be maintained on the limb once it’s locked down. This device is consistently rated highly in various tourniquet effectiveness studies, but as a whole is more expensive, bulkier, and heavier than most of the windlass type devices.</p>

04 / 08

Emergency Medical Tourniquet (EMT)

<p><em>Delphi Products</em><br /> <br /> This tourniquet is a pneumatic tourniquet that closely resembles a blood pressure cuff with a more robust securing mechanism. It’s an open-loop system that is easily applied and will compress even if loose on the limb. Unlike a blood pressure cuff, the pneumatic bladder in the EMT is reinforced to prevent loss of air when it’s inflated, allowing pressure to be maintained on the limb once it’s locked down. This device is consistently rated highly in various tourniquet effectiveness studies, but as a whole is more expensive, bulkier, and heavier than most of the windlass type devices.</p>

05 / 08

Military Emergency Tourniquet (MET): Generation 1, 2 & 3, 1311JEMS_48.pdf

<p><em>Tier-One Quality Solutions</em><br /> <br /> The MET is a lightweight open-loop system composed of a sturdy strap and aluminum windlass. As a true open-loop system, this tourniquet comes apart completely to place around a limb and doesn’t need to be fully cinched down prior to engaging the windlass; even if loosely applied, by turning the windlass the slack will uptake and fully tighten the tourniquet. It has two securing points to lock down the windlass after application: one that is adjustable and one with Velcro. The Generation 1 & 2 models have a narrow strap, while the Generation 3 version (shown below) has a wide strap. This tourniquet is very effective, but requires training for personnel not familiar with manufactured tourniquet operations.</p>

06 / 08

Special Operations Forces Tourniquet (SOF-T) and SOF-T Wide, 1311JEMS_50.pdf

<p><em>Tactical Medical Solutions</em><br /> <br /> The SOF-T is a true open-loop tourniquet with a solid metal windlass. Early versions have a narrow strap and a metal “alligator” clip with a locking screw to secure the strap. There are two plastic D-ring securing points for the windlass once applied. For these tourniquets, users should make sure the locking screw is secure prior to engaging the windlass to avoid unintentional loosening of the tourniquet.<br /> <br /> The newer generation, the SOF-T Wide, replaces the narrow strap with a wider version, and the alligator clip and screw was changed to a break-apart buckle. One of the securing points was removed to make room for the new buckle, so this version has one D-ring to lock down the windlass after application.</p>

07 / 08

SWAT-T, TK4, NATO Tourniquet and other “band” devices

<p>These devices are simple elastic bands of varying composition and width, some with locking devices and some without. They’re applied by wrapping the device around the limb, then applying compressive pressure by fully stretching the band as it’s wrapped repeatedly around the limb. Unless fully stretched and properly applied, these devices may not provide the necessary force on a limb to completely occlude blood flow. As such, users of these devices should ensure the end-point of tourniquet application has been attained (absent distal pulse), as there is a chance to only cause venous constriction if not made tight enough. Some agencies utilize the SWAT-T as an effective pressure bandage. These elastic band devices may also prove useful on pediatric and other patients with small limbs.</p>

08 / 08

Ratcheting Medical Tourniquet (Generation 3)

<p><em>m2 Inc.</em><br /> <br /> This device is a closed-loop tourniquet that tightens using a ratcheting, self-locking buckle. This generation has a wide strap that can be fully opened to allow for placement around an entrapped limb and is then routed through a metal ring and tightened down prior to engaging the ratcheting buckle. Once pressure is applied, the buckle automatically locks, allowing pressure to be securely maintained. Inside the buckle is a release that allows for simple removal of the device.</p>