Lumbar compartment syndrome is a recognized clinical phenomenon, despite receiving less attention as a clinical entity. Given its rarity, the definitive presentation, diagnosis, and management strategies are not completely agreed upon.
Materials and Methods:
A literature search on PubMed of all case reports of lumbar paraspinal compartment syndromes was conducted. All case reports and reviews were analyzed for patient demographic data, presentation, diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and clinical follow-up.
A total of 37 cases of lumbar compartment syndrome were identified. Overall, 91.9% occurred in men with an average age of 30.9 years. Weightlifting (n=18, 48.6%) and physical exertion (n=7, 18.9%) accounted for the majority of presentations. In all, 37.8% of cases occurred unilaterally. Creatinine kinase, aspartate aminotransferase, and alanine aminotransferase were notably elevated. Compartment pressure was elevated with an average of 91.8 mm Hg (SD: 44.8 mm Hg). Twenty-two cases were treated operatively (59.5%) and 15 (40.5%) were treated nonoperatively. In total, 19/20 (95.0%) of cases treated operatively reported either resolution of pain or return to baseline activities without limitation, compared with 1/11 (9.1%) treated nonoperatively. This difference between the operative and nonoperative cohort was statistically significant (P<0.0001).
Lumbar paraspinal compartment syndrome is a rare, but well-documented clinical entity. In all, 67.5% of cases occurred after weightlifting or physical exertion. Overall, 40.5% of cases in the literature were treated nonoperatively. Per our analysis, there is a clinically and statistically significant difference in cases treated operatively versus nonoperatively (95.0% vs. 9.1%, P<0.0001).