The effect of time from injury to fasciotomy in patients with acute upper extremity compartment syndrome

Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2024 Mar;30(3):203-209. doi: 10.14744/tjtes.2024.95519.


Background: Acute compartment syndrome of the upper extremity is a surgical emergency, and timely diagnosis with immediate fasciotomies is essential for the preservation of function. This retrospective study aimed to compare the complication rates of patients who underwent fasciotomy before and after 6 hours following the initial trauma.

Methods: The medical records of the patients who underwent fasciotomy for surgical treatment of ACS of the upper extremity between 2016 and 2022 were retrospectively analyzed for age, gender, dominant hand, mechanism of injury, injury level, affected compartments, associated injuries, time elapsed till fasciotomy, and complications. The patients were divided into two groups according to the timing of fasciotomy.

Results: A total of 32 patients underwent fasciotomies for upper extremity ACS. The mean age of patients who underwent fasciotomy ≤ 6 hours (group 1; 10 males, 7 females) and patients who underwent fasciotomy > 6 hours (group 2; 13 males, 2 females) was 31.1 and 34.8, respectively. The most common etiology was crushing injury. There was a significant difference in complication rates between group 1 (1/17) and group 2 (10/15) (p<0.001). The length of hospitalization stay in group 2 was statistically higher than in group 1 (p=0.005).

Conclusion: Fasciotomies for ACS of the upper extremity should be performed in less than 6 hours following the initial trauma to prevent complications.

MeSH terms

  • Compartment Syndromes* / diagnosis
  • Compartment Syndromes* / etiology
  • Compartment Syndromes* / surgery
  • Fasciotomy* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Upper Extremity / surgery