The inability to remove a ring from a finger is a common presentation to Emergency Departments in addition to Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery Units. This is often complicated by factors including trauma and infection, leading to a superimposed tourniquet effect by the ring, strangulating the subcutaneous tissues. The threat of neurovascular compromise favours early removal of the ring to limit associated morbidity. This article illustrates the common methods within the literature. We offer assessing clinicians an illustrated summary of techniques for removing an incarcerated ring from an extremity and summarise notable considerations to be acknowledged at time of assessment and ring removal.
A literature search using PubMed and Medline was performed to identify all articles written in English on ring removal.
The 12 publications included in this illustrated review describing techniques for removal of an incarcerated ring were published between 1991 and 2018 and include modifications to overcome difficulties due to the composition of the ring or severity of the ring incarceration and penile/scrotal ring removal.
The ring removal techniques are ring preserving or destructive. The technique used depends on factors including the extent of associated trauma to the digit, evidence of strangulation, ring composition, patient preference and equipment availability. Before an attempt at ring removal, high arm elevation, indirect ice compression of the digit and adequate analgesia maximise chances of success. In cases of strangulation, emergent referral to a specialist is indicated for removal and further management.