Fasciotomy in vascular trauma: is it too much, too often?

Am Surg. 1994 Jun;60(6):409-11.


Fasciotomy has been used as a prophylactic measure against development of compartment syndrome and as a treatment modality when the syndrome has developed in patients suffering vascular trauma. The hospital records of 36 patients who underwent surgical repair of their traumatic vascular injuries were reviewed. All 36 patients had at least one indication for fasciotomy at the time of repair; i.e., ischemic time of more than 6 hours or combined arterial and venous injury. Prophylactic fasciotomies were performed in 18 of the patients at the time of vascular repair; 18 did not have fasciotomies performed at the time of initial repair. The decision to perform a fasciotomy was made by the operating surgeon based on well-defined criteria. Hospital stay was significantly longer for the fasciotomy group. Four of the fasciotomy-related complications were infective in nature. Only one patient who did not undergo fasciotomy at the time of original repair developed a compartment syndrome during the postoperative period. Selective fasciotomy based on well-defined criteria instead of serial physical examinations or measurement of compartment pressures will effectively save limbs; there is an increased hospital stay.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Compartment Syndromes / prevention & control*
  • Fasciotomy*
  • Femoral Artery / injuries
  • Femoral Artery / surgery
  • Humans
  • Iliac Artery / injuries
  • Iliac Artery / surgery
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Leg Injuries / surgery*
  • Length of Stay
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / surgery*
  • Popliteal Artery / injuries
  • Popliteal Artery / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Veins