Saving Vena Amoris

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One device to the rescue.

***This article was written by one of EPM’s advertising partners as a promotional supplement.***

How do you remove a ring that is stuck on someone’s finger?  Easy. You cut it off… uh, the ring. Not the finger!  Right?  I’ve done it hundreds, if not thousands of times. But then it came to my wedding band. I still remember the moment that my wife put it on my hand over 44 years ago. It was a cheap ring. We had just gotten into medical school so every penny counted. I still remember the pastor saying “This ring symbolizes your endless love.”  OK, so I may be a bit sentimental, but I never wanted to cut that ring.


Then over the years my hand got larger, including some arthritis in the knuckle. And soon I realized I couldn’t get that ring off my hand, even if I wanted, which greatly pleased my wife. She joked that she wished she had put the ring in my nose so she could lead me around more effectively. But then I injured my hand, and thankfully it was the long finger next to my ring finger. Still, the handwriting was on the wall. It was just a matter of time before that ring had to come off, one way or the other.

When Dr. Kevin Spencer, emergency physician and co-founder of Ring Rescue Inc., came by our booth at ACEP last year and told us about a new invention called the Ring Rescue Compression Device (CD) that could help remove rings without cutting them I was interested. “You’ll never be able to get this one off,” I challenged him.

“Turn on your cameras,” he said. “I’ll prove to you that we can get almost any ring off, even yours.”  And that he did.


So what’s the trick? Everyone has one. String, silk suture or dental floss? Various lubricants including KY Jelly, Muco and other water soluble lubes, Vaseline, or even Windex? You can also cool the finger with ice or cold water to decrease the finger size. They all work to one degree or another. And there can be some risk of laceration using thread, suture or other winding material. So what is so great about Ring Rescue’s CD?  I’ll get to that in a moment.


Why don’t you just cut a ring off? Besides the sentimental value of an intact ring, some modern rings are made of some very strong material that is hard to cut with the normal ring cutters. Some rings are made of tungsten or even titanium. And very wide band width is now in style. I’ve seen rings that look like a steel bushing extending over most of the proximal phalanx.

You would cut all day to get through it. The ring can also get very hot during cutting and actually burn the patient. Other so-called “eternity rings” have stones all the way around the ring. Cut through this type and you might have diamonds rolling around on the floor.

But cutting through the ring is just the first step. Unless you plan to cut both sides you will have to use pliers or some type of gripping device to spread the circle to facilitate its removal. Depending on where you practice the patient may be impressed or appalled when you go out to your truck and come back with a pair of pliers or vice grips. What looks easy can turn out to be a difficult, tiring procedure that transforms that beautiful expensive piece of jewelry into a tangled mess.

Why not try Ring Rescue CD?  It’s really simple. It looks like a tiny blood pressure cuff that slips over the distal finger and slowly pumps up to squeeze all the fluid out of the soft tissue immediately distal to the ring. It’s not painful, I can testify and it is safe for the finger. It only takes about five minutes.

As the compression device is slowly inflated the patient elevates the hand to facilitate natural drainage. At the five-minute mark the device is removed and you will see that the finger size is reduced a noticeable amount.

Then you simply apply Ring Rescue’s non-hydrating lubricant (it’s funny how a water based lubricant will make the tissue swell right back up before you can accomplish your task) and go to work with the variety of techniques.

The Ring Rescue Team recommended three techniques: the corkscrew, the rocker and/or countertraction for successful removal. It’s important to remember that the operator removes the ring, not the device. Ring Rescue CD shrinks the finger 100% of the time, giving you the best chance of removal with relative ease and without destroying it.

Some frequent questions that arise are:

Q:  What’s the magic in leaving the device on for five minutes?

A:  Nothing, except that that is how long it takes to gently displace most of the fluid or compress the tissues depending on if the case is acute or chronic.

Q:  Can you repeat the five-minute compression if the finger or the swelling is particularly large.

A: Yes, a second cycle is desired in large or chronically swollen fingers. It’s important to note that in chronically swollen fingers it is the tissue that will be compressed rather than displacing edematous fluid. These are the more difficult cases and repeated compressions may be helpful.

Q: Can you increase the pressure?

A: Yes, in fact in cases with chronically swollen fingers where tissue compression is more of a goal than squeezing out edema fluid you can increase the pressure as well as repeat the cycle to accomplish the reduction in size needed to remove the ring in a non-destructive manner.

Q: Is there any trick to the right lubricant?

A: Yes, water based lubricant can cause swelling to come right back. Ring Rescue has its own proprietary lubricant that comes with the devices.

Q:  What if you can’t remove the ring?

A: There are a small number of cases that will defeat the technique, but even then, using the Ring Rescue CD should be the first step you take in ring removal. Even if the ring cannot be removed, it will create more space for the ring cutter to slide in more effectively.

What’s the take home?  Cutting a ring off sounds like the easy solution when you need to remove a stuck ring, but it can be nearly impossible in some cases and clearly undesirable in many others. Take a treasured ring off intact and you will be a hero.

Fun fact: Archaeologists have found that people have been wearing rings for over 4,500 years. And rings have almost always been worn on the third finger of the left hand, the “ring finger.” This was associated with an ancient Roman belief that the left hand’s ring finger had a vein connected directly to the heart:  the vena amoris, or the vein of love.


FOUNDER/EXECUTIVE EDITOR Dr. Plaster has been an emergency physician for more than 30 years, working exclusively night shifts for the past 20 years in emergency departments across the country. During that period, he joined the U.S. Navy and served two tours in Iraq. Dr. Plaster is the founder and executive editor of Emergency Physicians Monthly and the founder of Plaster Publishing.

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