The Curious Case of the Ring That Wouldn’t Come Off

Image courtesy of Andrej Salibi and Andrew N Morritt


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Rings made of titanium are becoming popular as an alternative to gold or silver, but they are also difficult to remove from swollen fingers; in emergency departments, special cutting equipment is usually needed to remove these rings when every second counts. Typical methods like dental saws, drills, or diamond tipped saws can take up to 15 minutes for removal and can burn the underlying skin. A report in the Emergency Medicine Journal outlines a case in which a titanium ring had been unsuccessfully removed from a patient’s finger and plastic surgeons stepped in to remove it using simple, readily-available equipment at the hospital. Using a pair of large bolt cutters, the ring was split and then pulled apart by lateral traction on a pair of large paper clips in less than 30 seconds. This method can be performed by just one person without damage to the underlying finger, unlike other methods.