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Long-Term Outcome of Mini-Open Surgical Decompression for Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome of the Forearm in Professional Motorcycling Riders

Gondolini, Giorgio MD*; Schiavi, Paolo MD†,‡; Pogliacomi, Francesco MD†,‡; Ceccarelli, Francesco MD†,‡; Antonetti, Tommaso MD†,§; Zasa, Michele MD†,¶

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2019 - Volume 29 - Issue 6 - p 476–481
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000539
Original Research

Objective: To evaluate results of mini-open fasciotomy (MOF) in high-level motorcycling or motocross riders with chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) at long-term follow-up (minimum 5 years).

Design: Case series. Level of evidence: IV.

Setting: University Hospital/Private Practice.

Patients: Fifty-four professional motorcycling riders treated with MOF for a CECS of the forearm from January 2006 to June 2011. Inclusion criteria comprised: high-level motorcycling or motocross riders, clinical symptoms of CECS for at least 6 months, diagnosis confirmed using preoperative compartment hydrostatic pressure measurement and/or magnetic resonance imaging of the forearm, minimum follow-up of 5 years.

Interventions: A MOF to obtain decompression of all compartments was performed in all patients.

Main Outcome Measures: Visual analog scale; a subjective scale to measure strength; QuickDash functional scores. Time to resume full riding capacities as short-term evaluation.

Results: A total of 54 patients who underwent 77 MOF procedures overall (23 bilateral) were included. The mean age was 23.6 ± 5.2 years. Mean Visual Analog Scale decreased from a preoperative value of 68.2 to a 3-month postoperative value of 26 (P < 0.001). Mean QuickDash scale was 84 at preoperative registration, falling to 20, 3 months after surgery (P < 0.001) and down to 12 at 1-year follow-up (P = 0.017). The average time to return to full riding capacities was 3.5 ± 1 week.

Conclusions: Mini-open fasciotomy resulted safe and effective for the treatment of chronic exertional compartment syndrome in high-level motorcycling or motocross riders. The good outcome at follow-up resulted stable at 5 years and the incidence of complications remained low. Our data demonstrate that the resolution of symptoms is reliable and durable. Pain recovery was immediate after surgery, instead functional scores showed a more gradual recovery throughout the 12 months after surgery.

Clinical Relevance: Mini-open fasciotomy is a reliable treatment for CECS of the forearm in professional motorcycling riders. This treatment should also be considered in young riders due to the absence of tardive relapse reported in this study.

*Villa Serena-Villa Igea Hospital, Forlì, Italy;

Clinica Mobile nel Mondo, World Motorbike Championships (MotoGP & WSBK) Medical Division, Parma, Italy;

Orthopaedic Clinic, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University Hospital of Parma, Parma, Italy;

§Sports Medicine Unit, Public Health Department of Parma, Parma, Italy; and

Curriculum of Sport Sciences and Physical Exercise, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Corresponding Author: Paolo Schiavi, MD, Orthopedic Clinic, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University Hospital of Parma, Via Gramsci, 14, 43126, Parma, Italy (

The authors report no conflict of interests.

Received March 31, 2017

Accepted September 14, 2017

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