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Ring removal techniques

Joan Bothner, MD
Section Editors
Anne M Stack, MD
Allan B Wolfson, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Patients commonly present to emergency departments with rings that they are unable to remove from their fingers; often they have tried multiple removal techniques before presenting for care. In addition to rings, children may place metal washers or nuts over their fingers or toes, and teenage and adult males may place various constriction devices around their penis or scrotum to maintain or enhance erection [1]. Etiologies for swelling include trauma, dependent extremity positioning, allergic angioedema, or placement of a ring that is too small for the digit.

Techniques for removing a constricting ring from a finger, toe, or penis are reviewed here.


The ring should be removed as rapidly as possible if the patient has signs of vascular compromise (eg, mottling, absent capillary refill, or gray color).

In addition, removal of rings prior to swelling and entrapment is good basic first aid practice in patients with extremity trauma.


There are no absolute contraindications to ring removal.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 17, 2016.
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