Fasciectomy for Recurrent Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome of the Anterior Leg

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Aug 1;53(8):1549-1554. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002631.


Purpose: This study aimed to determine whether a fasciectomy for recurrent chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the anterior leg (ant-CECS) after a minimally invasive fasciotomy is safe and beneficial.

Methods: Demographics and clinical course of patients undergoing a fasciectomy for ongoing exercise-related leg pain (ERLP) after an earlier minimally invasive fasciotomy for ant-CECS were prospectively obtained using questionnaires. Patient-reported severity and frequency of pain, tightness, weakness, cramping, and paresthesia in rest and during exercise were scored before and after surgery. A successful outcome was defined as a self-reported good or excellent result.

Results: Between January 2013 and March 2019, 24 of the 958 patients evaluated for ERLP were included in the study (15 females; median age, 24 yr; range, 14-37 yr). Intracompartmental pressure values before the minimally invasive fasciotomy and before the fasciectomy were not different. Perioperative findings were fibrotic bands, pseudofascias, or complete fusions of fascial edges. Postoperative superficial wound infections requiring oral antibiotics occurred in four legs. After rehabilitation, the total symptom scores during exercise and resting conditions decreased threefold compared with preoperatively (exercise, 55 ± 5 to 17 ± 3, P < 0.001; rest, 30 ± 4 to 10 ± 2, P < 0.001). All cardinal symptoms decreased significantly, but the largest improvements were reported for pain and tightness. At follow-up (median, 12 months; range, 2-65 months), 79% of patients reported a successful outcome, whereas 75% had returned to physical activity.

Conclusion: An anterior fasciectomy with associated treatment of correlated pathologies can be safe and beneficial in patients with ongoing ERLP who previously underwent a minimally invasive fasciotomy for ant-CECS.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome / surgery*
  • Fasciotomy*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Netherlands
  • Recurrence
  • Young Adult