The effect of hyperbaric oxygen in crush injuries and skeletal muscle-compartment syndromes

Undersea Hyperb Med. 2012 Jul-Aug;39(4):847-55.


Crush injuries represent a spectrum of injury to body parts as result of trauma. Presentations vary from minor contusions to limb-threatening damage. Typically, the injury involves multiple tissues, from skin and subcutaneous, to muscle and tendons, to bone and joints. In their most severe presentations, predictable complications--including osteomyelitis, non-union of fractures, amputations and failed flaps--occur in approximately 50 percent of the cases with standard of practice surgical and medical interventions. Skeletal muscle-compartment syndrome (SMCS) is another consequence of trauma, but in this situation the target tissues are muscles and nerve. Edema and/or bleeding within the confines of the fascial envelope can increase the pressure within the skeletal muscle-compartment. When the tissue fluid pressure within the compartment exceeds the capillary perfusion pressure to the muscles and nerves in the compartment, these tissues are rendered ischemic and manifest the signs and symptoms of SMCS. The SMCS, especially in its incipient stages before a fasciotomy is required, is a therapeutic challenge since no means to arrest its progression exist other than hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2). Unfortunately, HBO2 is woefully neglected as an adjunct for managing crush injury and SMCS. Strong arguments exist for its use based on evidenced-based information and how HBO2 mitigates the pathology of these conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Compartment Syndromes / metabolism
  • Compartment Syndromes / therapy*
  • Crush Syndrome / metabolism
  • Crush Syndrome / therapy*
  • Edema / complications
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Ischemia / complications
  • Muscles / blood supply
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Patient Selection


  • Oxygen