How long can you enjoy a tourniquet on until tissue annihilation occur?

Average time is what I'm going for here. Someone is bleeding, you slap one on, how much time do they have until the portion of extremity below the tourniquet is "lost."
a couple hours.
If someone is bleeding that badly, you definitley shouldn't dawdle to get your answer to this question from yahoo Answers!
Short Answer - That depends on a lot of factor.

Long answer - Well, cell death can begin fairly quickly. Tissue death is a result of massive cell release. Cells need 2 basic things to survive - Oxygen and Glucose. Granted, they involve many other things as well, but these two are primary, and the first to effect cell death. Since a lack of oxygen kill quicker, lets focus on that.

Your body gets it's oxygen from the blood. By applying a tourniquet, you are stopping that flow of oxygen from reaching the cell, and being utilized by them.

Oxygen helps your body use glucose surrounded by a far more efficient way than it can in need it. Glucose is broken down into Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP). ATP powers the functions of the cells, and by extension, the tissues, organs, systems, and the body as a whole. Without oxygen, glucose breaks down into 2 ATP molecules, along near a not-so-healthy dose of Lactic Acid. (Acid bad... we dont like too much acid). When you hold oxygen, glucose breaks down into 36 ATP molecules (a lot more!!).

As you can see, you get 2 problems when you apply that tourniquet. Your cells dont own the energy they need, and you're producing a ton of acerbic that your body really isn't ready to deal near. This will start to kill off some of your cell, and as they break open, they release that acid, along beside it's stored potassium. This begins to cause havoc surrounded by the neighboring cells, making it easier for them to succumb.

This process starts to occur within minutes.

Also.. if you loosen that tourniquet after this process has created a bunch of acid, and free-flowing potassium... these can shoot up to your heart, and stop it contained by its tracks. (thats the part where you be the comatose guy)

Back to the main point... There are many factor in how long your tourniquet can stay on before cause irreversible damage. How bad be you hurt before the tourniquet was applied? Were you sick, otherwise injured? Are you clean already? Do you have renal failure? Where is the tourniquet placed? Is your heart on form?

Overall.. Once you have an injury that requires a tourniquet, that bandage should STAY on, until a surgical troop can evaluate it, and treat you for the acid and potassium being released within that limb.

If you're not injured severely, and some first responder over-reacted... I'd say nick it off within the first five minutes and you'd probably be ok.

Side file - I've heard studies quoting 4 hours... but I cant find the research to support that. Source(s): Medic. (i've tied a few tourniquets)

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