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Letters to Nature
Nature 233, 265 - 266 (24 September 1971); doi:10.1038/233265a0

Nature of the Nerve Lesion caused by a Pneumatic Tourniquet


Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG

THE use of a tourniquet around a limb may be followed by damage to peripheral nerves. This lesion has been investigated experimentally in cats1,2 and the results suggested that in most cases the nerve damage was limited to the portion of the nerve under the tourniquet. Nerve fibres conducted normally distal to this level, with either a conduction block or a reduced conduction velocity at the site of the tourniquet. Histological studies showed localized demyelination under the tourniquet with preservation of axonal continuity. A similar pathological change is believed to occur in many forms of human pressure palsy, and the conclusion that the nerve damage is due to ischaemia has been widely accepted.



1. Denny-Brown, D., and Brenner, G., Arch. Neurol. Psychiat., 51, 1 (1944).
2. Mayer, R. F., and Denny-Brown, D., Neurology, 14, 714 (1964).
3. Danta, G., Fowler, T. J., and Gilliatt, R. W., J. Physiol., 215, 50P (1971).
4. Grundfest, H., Cold Spring Harbor Symp. Quant. Biol., 4, 179 (1936).
5. Swallow, M., J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiat., 29, 205 (1966).

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