Age and dressing type as independent predictors of post-operative infection in patients with acute compartment syndrome of the lower leg

Int Orthop. 2017 Dec;41(12):2591-2596. doi: 10.1007/s00264-017-3576-1. Epub 2017 Jul 20.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine independent factors, including timing of fasciotomy, that confer an increased risk of post-operative surgical site infection (SSI) in patients presenting with acute compartment syndrome (ACS) of the lower extremity.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on a consecutive cohort of 53 adult patients requiring fasciotomy for lower-extremity fractures complicated by ACS presenting to a single Level I trauma center over a seven-year study period. The primary outcome measure was the incidence of SSI (as defined by the CDC) occurring within 12 months of fasciotomy. Explanatory variables including site of ACS, time of injury, time of fasciotomy, operative findings, and requirement for additional soft tissue coverage procedures were recorded for all patients. Multivariate regression was used to determine independent predictors of post-operative SSI.

Results: post-operative SSI was detected in 16 (30.2%) patients. Compared to infection-free patients, patients with post-operative SSI had a significantly higher median age (52.0 vs. 37.0 years, p = 0.010), frequency of intra-operative myonecrosis at time of fasciotomy (31.2% vs. 5.4%, p = 0.021), and requirement for negative-pressure wound therapy [NPWT] (93.7% vs. 45.9%, p = 0.002). Multivariate logistic regression analysis confirmed that requirement for NPWT (odds ratio [OR], 17.10; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.78-164.0; p = 0.014) and increasing age (OR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.01-1.14; p = 0.037) were independent predictors of post-operative SSI. Timing of fasciotomy following injury was not independently related to the risk of SSI.

Conclusions: ACS occurs on a spectrum of disease severity that evolves variably over time. Increasing age of the patient and requirement for NPWT following fasciotomy are independent predictors of post-operative SSI following emergent fasciotomy for ACS. Further studies are required to inform optimal treatment strategies in such patients.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic, Level III.

Keywords: ACS; Acute compartment syndrome; Compartment syndrome; Delta P.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bandages / adverse effects
  • Bandages / statistics & numerical data
  • Compartment Syndromes / surgery*
  • Fasciotomy / adverse effects*
  • Fasciotomy / methods
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / complications*
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lower Extremity / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Trauma Centers
  • Young Adult