Acute compartment syndrome is an emergent condition caused by increased pressure within a closed compartment. The most common etiology is fractures, but there a number of atraumatic causes cited in the literature. Acute compartment syndrome occurs most frequently in the anterior compartment of the lower leg, followed by the volar forearm. Patients may present with severe pain, pain with passive stretch, swelling, paresthesias, numbness, weakness, decreased pulses, and delayed capillary refill. No finding in isolation can exclude the diagnosis. Direct measurement of the intracompartmental pressure is the most important diagnostic test. Treatment involves removal of compressive dressings and surgical consultation for emergent fasciotomy.
Assistant Professor and Director of Ultrasound (Gottlieb), Resident Physician (Adams), and Resident Physician (Landas), Department of Emergency Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.
The authors, faculty, and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organizations relevant to this educational activity.
Reprints: Michael Gottlieb, MD, 1750 W Harrison St, Suite 108 Kellogg, Chicago, IL 60612 (e-mail: MichaelGottliebMD@Gmail.com).