Titanium rings problematic for ER doctors

It’s light, strong, durable and hypoallergenic, but titanium rings are proving problematic for emergency care doctors because they’re difficult to remove from swollen fingers.

In case study published online Thursday in Emergency Medicine Journal, doctors had to figure out how to remove a titanium ring from the left ring finger of a patient whose digit had become increasingly swollen and painful after a long, warm bath six hours earlier.

Emergency care doctors attempted to remove the ring using elevation, finger lubrication, finger binding and a manual ring cutter. The local fire service was unable to remove the ring with specialized cutting equipment.

Eventually, plastic surgeons at the hospital decided to use a large pair of bolt cutters, which worked in less than 30 seconds. The split halves of the ring were pulled apart by latera traction of a large pair of paperclips. The man recovered easily, according to a news release.

A swollen finger caused by a too-tight ring isn’t uncommon in ER care, but prolonged constriction can restrict blood supply, leading to tissue death and ultimately loss of the digit.

“Our method used simple equipment that is readily available in most hospitals at all times, took less than 30 seconds to perform, and could be performed by a sole operator without damage to the underlying finger,” study authors concluded.