Acute compartment syndrome: Cause, diagnosis, and new viewpoint

Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Jul;98(27):e16260. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000016260.


Background: Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) is defined as a clinical entity originated from trauma or other conditions, and remains challenging to diagnose and treat effectively. The review was aim to present the controversy in diagnosing, treating ACS. It was found that there was no criterion about the ACS, and result unnecessary osteotomy. The presence of clinical assessment (5P) always means the necrosis of muscles and was the most serious or irreversible stage of ACS. Besides pressure methods, the threshold of pressure identifying ACS was also controversial.

Methods: Immediate surgical fasciotomy was important to prevent severe suquelae of the ACS. However, there was still controversy about the right time that fasciotomy should be done to avoid irreversible ischemic changes. The most important thing to treat ACS was comprehension to the true injury mechanism, but a systemic classification about traumatic mechanism in most literature was not clear.

Results: After observations to fracture patients with blister, we recommended that surgeons dealing with such emergencies should be vigilant, and the indication for fasciotomy should be strictly controlled following with injury mechanism especially for patients without severe soft tissue injury.

Conclusion: For those crushing and soft tissue injuries, the current evidence based strategies for managing patients was useful, but for those fracture related injury, more examination was necessary to avoid overtreatment especially for those patients with blister observed. In facing patients, medical history, injured mechanism should be paid special attention, and rigorous classification about traumatic etiology was the key for the treatment of these patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Compartment Syndromes* / diagnosis
  • Compartment Syndromes* / etiology
  • Compartment Syndromes* / surgery
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Fasciotomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*