Tourniquet Use in Extremity-Based Microsurgery

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of reconstructive microsurgery




Background The use of tourniquets and their role in extremity-based microsurgery has not been thoroughly investigated. The purpose of this study was to investigate tourniquet use and its associated outcomes and complications. Methods Approval from the Institutional Review Boards was granted at each site. A retrospective chart review was completed for patients who had undergone extremity-based microsurgery with the use of a tourniquet between 01/01/2018 and 02/01/2021 at two large academic institutions. Demographic characteristics, initial reasons for surgery, complications, and outcomes were recorded. Patients were separated into groups based on tourniquet-use during three operative segments: (1) flap elevation, (2) vessel harvest and (3) microvascular anastomosis. An internal comparison of complication rate was performed between cases for which a tourniquet was used for one operative segment to all cases in which it was not used for the same operative segment. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were performed to identify statistically significant results. Results A total of 99 patients (106 surgeries) were included in this study across sites. The mean age was 41.2 years and 67.7% of the patients were male. The most common reason for microsurgical reconstruction was a traumatic event (50.5%). The need for an additional unplanned surgery was the most common surgical complication (16%). 70% of procedures used a tourniquet for flap elevation. When these cases were compared to those that did not use a tourniquet for flap elevation, there was no difference in complication rates. 61% of procedures used a tourniquet for vessel harvest and 32% for anastomosis. Similarly, additional analyses identified no difference in complication rates when compared to procedures for which a tourniquet was not used for the intervention. Conclusions Based on these results, the authors encourage the use of tourniquets for extremity-based microsurgery to enable bloodless dissection without the concern of increased complication rates.


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