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December 2, 1983

New questions about the old antishock suits

JAMA. 1983;250(21):2899-2904. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340210005002

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From its inception in the early 1900s to its revival in the 1960s, the pneumatic antishock garment (PASG) has been met with both enthusiasm and caution. Participants in the recent meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, held in Chicago, focused on the latter as they discussed several problems and precautions they believe should be noted by physicians and emergency medical technicians alike.

The garment, also called "military antishock trousers" or the "G-suit" (because of some similarities to garments worn to protect pilots against gravity forces), is most commonly used to raise the blood pressure of the trauma victim suffering from hypovolemic hypotension in the field, according to Kenneth W. Burchard, MD, of the Rhode Island Hospital, Providence. It is believed to do this by increasing total peripheral resistance of the arterioles.

But another use of the garment—for its possible autotransfusion effect—has generated debate. In theory, by