If you care to know what a ring avulsion is, take Jimmy Fallon‘s advice and don’t Google it, unless you’re fond of graphic images and have a strong stomach.
Though the Tonight Show host said his own injury looked like a fake broken finger in a horror movie, a ring avulsion is a very real and very gruesome injury that looks so much worse than it sounds.
During his return to the Tonight Show, he didn’t reveal the severity of his avulsion, which runs the spectrum from contusion to amputation, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s possible that Fallon suffered this: when he fell and tried to catch himself, the force caused his ring to rip back the skin from his digit, like turning a glove inside out. The pictures are even worse than the description, and the injury has been described as “degloving.”
Given that Fallon spent six hours in microsurgery and 10 days in ICU, according to the Hollywood Reporter, it’s possible his ring avulsion was on the more horrifying end of the spectrum. He described the incident on his show in good humor and found a silver lining in the painful accident: “I should say the fall was funny.”
“Basically what happened is I tripped and fell on a braided rug that my wife loved, and I can’t wait to burn it to the ground. I tripped and fell and I caught my fall. So I’m getting up and my finger’s sideways. So I wrap my hand in a towel and I get in a cab and go to the emergency room. I go, ‘I broke my finger! I think I broke my finger!’ And they go, ‘Oh, you didn’t break your finger.’ “
Basically, the comedian said the ring pulled his finger off.
Doctors chop off a limb that’s suffered an avulsion, E! Online added. But surgeons at Bellevue Hospital Center did their best to keep Jimmy in one piece, taking a vein from his foot to reconstruct the damaged one in his hand. So far, things seem to have gone well — he pointed out that the tip of his finger was pink, where it used to be white.
So what exactly is a ring avulsion? For those with a high tolerance for gore, here are some pictures to haunt your dreams. For the rest of us, here’s the description: described by Hand Lab as “one of the most devastating finger injuries,” the ring avulsion “not only (pulls off) the skin off circumferentially but it also usually strips away the nerves, tendons, and bone as well. (Reattachment) is often not possible because of the extensive soft tissue damage, requiring … amputation.”
Yuck. Orthopedic resource OrthoBullets notes that skin, nerves, and vessels are usually damaged and for that reason, the prognosis for recovery isn’t very good. In a cringe-worthy detail, people who suffer from a ring avulsion — about 150,000 per year — are usually working with moving machinery or protruding objects.
NIH has four ring avulsion cases on its books that sound about as disgusting as Fallon’s — like the 35-year-old garbage man whose finger was reduced to a stump when his wedding ring was entangled on an iron hook in a truck. Or the waitress in her early 30s, whose pointer was caught under a fridge she was trying to lift — she suffered a “sub-amputation.” Then there’s the young carpenter, whose wedding band was caught in a turning lathe. You know the rest. And finally, the farmer, who suffered an avulsion when he got entangled in a rope around a cow’s neck and the ring cut deep into the base of one digit.
Such stories are enough to make one swear off rings altogether — or at least walk a bit steadier on one’s feet.
[Photo Courtesy of YouTube Screengrab]