Timely application of hemorrhage control interventions is lifesaving. Any amount of blood loss may be detrimental and, therefore, trauma-induced hemorrhage must be addressed immediately and aggressively. Early and prompt hemorrhage control is one of the main priorities of treating hemorrhagic shock. Trauma-induced hemorrhage remains a leading cause of preventable death. A vast majority of bleeding wounds encountered are not initially life-threatening but become life-threatening with delay in appropriate hemorrhage control.
Appropriate immediate hemorrhage control interventions for the exsanguinating small animal include direct pressure, wound packing, hemostatic dressings, pressure bandage, and, possibly, tourniquet application. Although tourniquet application is a lifesaving intervention in people experiencing extremity hemorrhage, it has not been shown to be a necessary intervention for small animals.
The aim of this companion article is to briefly describe the basic methods for achieving immediate hemorrhage control in small animals in a prehospital or life-threatening situation.
Common sources of trauma-induced massive hemorrhage include injury to a major artery or other large vessel (eg, external jugular), a highly vascular organ(s) (liver and spleen), or from a combination thereof.
Blood loss from a major arterial source (ie, femoral or carotid artery) may rapidly lead to exsanguination and death in as little as 3–5 min.
Placing a circumferential compressive bandage that is too tight or restrictive around the neck, thorax, or abdomen may occlude the patient’s airway, restrict chest expansion, or prevent adequate respiration.
Noncircumferential bandages often do not generate sufficient enough pressure to abate arterial hemorrhage, particularly when systolic arterial blood pressure is restored postfluid resuscitation.
Definitive hemostasis for massive internal hemorrhage is best achieved through early surgical intervention.
Direct pressure remains the most effective “medical” intervention for initial hemorrhage control.
When feasible, elevate and splint (immobilize) any bleeding extremity or body part as an adjunctive aid for hemorrhage control when used in conjunction with other methods of control, especially direct pressure.
Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, Volume 32, Issue S1, Page 32-47, January 2022.Wiley: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care: Table of Contents