II. Pathophysiology

  1. Extremity Trauma increases interstitial tissue pressure
    1. Crush injury
    2. Fracture
    3. Prolonged extremity compression
    4. Blood flow Restored in previously ischemic limb
    5. Prolonged application of MAST trousers (PASG)
    6. Infection
    7. Malignancy
  2. Increased pressure occurs in fixed fascial compartment
    1. Thigh, Leg or foot
      1. Tibial Shaft Fractures
        1. Compartment Syndrome complicates 3-5% of adult tibial shaft Fractures
        2. Although uncommon <12 years, tibial shaft Fracture accounts for 40% of childhood cases
        3. Malhotra (2015) Injury 46(2): 254-8 +PMID: 24972494 [PubMed]
    2. Forearm (3 compartments)
      1. Volar (wrist flexors, Median Nerve and Ulnar Nerve)
      2. Dorsal (wrist extensors, finger extensors)
      3. Mobile wad (muscle bodies)
    3. Hand (10 compartments)
      1. Hypothenar compartment
      2. Thenar compartment
      3. Adductor pollicis compartment
      4. Four dorsal interossei compartments
      5. Three volar interossei compartments
  3. Tissue pressure rises above that of capillaries
  4. Blood flow distal to high tissue pressures is cut off
  5. Distal nerve and muscle become ischemic and necrose

III. Symptoms

  1. Severe extremity pain out of proportion to injury
  2. Paresthesias or anesthesia to light touch
  3. Mnemonic: "6 Ps" (unreliable in young or non-verbal patients)
    1. Pain
    2. Pressure (pain on palpation)
    3. Paresthesia
    4. Paresis (late sign)
    5. Pallor (late sign)
    6. Pulseless (last sign to occur)
  4. Mnemonic: "3 As" (in young children)
    1. Anxiety
    2. Agitation
    3. Analgesic requirement

IV. Signs

  1. Pain or Paresthesias worse with passively Stretching involved muscles
    1. Passive finger or toe range of motion
    2. Patient flexes injured extremity to reduce pain
  2. Decreased sensation of involved nerves
    1. Vibratory sensation lost first
  3. Tense extremity swelling
  4. Less reliable signs of Compartment Syndrome
    1. Distal pulses may be diminished
      1. Occlude collateral circulation when assessing
    2. Distal extremity pallor may be present
  5. Specific extremity neurologic function
    1. Motor Exam
      1. Ulnar Nerve: Claw Hand
      2. Radial Nerve: Wrist drop
      3. Median Nerve: Cannot make OK Sign
      4. Peroneal Nerve: Foot drop
        1. Consider Anterior Tibial Compartment Syndrome
    2. Sensory Exam
      1. Radial Nerve: thumb web space
      2. Median Nerve: distal index
      3. Ulnar Nerve: distal pinky
  6. Bunnel Test (stretch test)
    1. Examiner maintains the MCP joints in extension
    2. Actively or passively flex the interphalangeal joints (PIP and DIP joints)
    3. Findings suggestive of Compartment Syndrome
      1. Restricted PIP and DIP joint range of motion when MCP joints are held in extension
      2. PIP and DIP joint range of motion are not restricted when MCP joint is allowed to fall into flexion

VI. Precautions

  1. Irreversible damage occurs in 4-6 hours
  2. Do not wait for pallor or pulselessness
  3. Compartment Syndrome can occur with open Fractures

VII. Management

  1. Consult orthopedic surgery emergently
  2. Pressures consistent with Compartment Syndrome
    1. Tissue pressure 15 to 25 mmHg with symptoms
    2. Tissue pressure >25 mmHg without signs or symptoms
  3. Fasciotomy indications
    1. Tissue pressure exceeds 30-45 mmHg
    2. Tissue pressure within 20 mmHg of Diastolic BP

VIII. Course

  1. Compartment Syndrome develops hours after injury

IX. References

  1. Gardiner (2018) Crit Dec Emerg Med 37(5): 3-14
  2. (1993) ATLS Providers Manual, p. 234-5
  3. Geiderman in Marx (2002) Rosen's Emerg. Med, p. 478-80
  4. Hori (2015) Crit Dec Emerg Med 29(3): 2-7

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Ontology: Compartment syndromes (C0009492)

Definition (MSH) Conditions in which increased pressure within a limited space compromises the BLOOD CIRCULATION and function of tissue within that space. Some of the causes of increased pressure are TRAUMA, tight dressings, HEMORRHAGE, and exercise. Sequelae include nerve compression (NERVE COMPRESSION SYNDROMES); PARALYSIS; and ISCHEMIC CONTRACTURE.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D003161
ICD9 958.90
ICD10 T79.A0
SnomedCT 111245009, 212379008, 45781009
English Compartment Syndromes, Syndromes, Compartment, Compartment Syndrome, Syndrome, Compartment, Compartment syndrome, unspecified, compartment syndrome, compartment syndrome (diagnosis), Compartment syndrome NOS, Compartment Syndromes [Disease/Finding], compartment syndromes, compartmental syndromes, compartmental syndrome, Compartment syndrome, Compartment syndrome (disorder), Compartment syndromes, compartment; syndrome, syndrome; compartment, Compartment syndrome, NOS, Compartmental syndrome, NOS
Italian Sindrome compartimentale, Sindromi da compressione
Japanese コンパートメント症候群, コンパートメントショウコウグン
Swedish Kompartmentsyndrom
Czech syndromy kompartmentu, syndromy lože, Kompartment syndrom, kompartment syndrom
Finnish Aitio-oireyhtymät
French Syndromes compartimentaux, Syndrome des loges, Syndrome de compression des loges musculaires, Syndrome de compression des loges, Syndromes des loges musculaires, Syndrome compartimental
Polish Zespoły loży mięśniowych, Przykurcz Volkmanna, Zespoły uciskowo-niedokrwienne
Hungarian Compartment syndroma
Norwegian Muskellosjesyndromer, Kompartmentsyndromer
Portuguese Síndromes Compartimentais, Síndromes de Compartimento, Síndrome de loca muscular
Spanish Síndromes de Compartimento, Síndromes de Compartimiento, síndrome compartimental (trastorno), síndrome compartimental, Síndrome compartimental, Síndromes Compartimentales
Dutch spierloge; syndroom, syndroom; spierloge, compartimentsyndroom, Compartimentsyndromen, Compartimentsyndroom, Contractuur van Volkmann, Syndromen, compartiment-, Syndroom, compartiment-
German Kompartmentsyndrom, Kompartmentsyndrome

Ontology: Volkmann Contracture (C0042951)

Definition (MSH) A type of permanent damage to muscles and nerves that results from prolonged lack blood flow to those tissues. It is characterized by shortening and stiffening of the muscles.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D054061
ICD9 958.6
ICD10 T79.6
SnomedCT 111247001, 157667008
English Volkmann's ischaemic contract., Volkmann's ischemic contract., Volkmann Contractures, Volkmann's Ischemic Contracture, Ischemic Contracture, Volkmann's, Contractures, Ischemic, Volkmann Ischemic Contracture, Contracture, Ischemic, Volkmanns Ischemic Contracture, Ischemic Contractures, Ischemic Contracture, Contracture, Volkmann, Contractures, Volkmann, Contracture, Volkmann's Ischemic, Volkmann Contracture, Volkmann's contracture (diagnosis), Volkmann's contracture (physical finding), Volkmann's isch contract, Volkmann contracture, Ischemic Contracture [Disease/Finding], volkmann's contracture ischemic, Volkmanns contracture, contractures ischemic volkmann's, volkmann's contracture, volkmann's ischemic contracture, Volkmann contracture (disorder), Volkmann's contracture, Volkmann's ischemic contracture, Volkmann's syndrome, Volkmann's ischaemic contracture, Volkmann's contracture (disorder), contracture; muscle, ischemic (volkmann's), contracture; volkmann's, muscle; contracture, ischemic (volkmann's), volkmann's; contracture, volkmann's; ischemic contracture, volkmanns contracture
Dutch ischemische contractuur van Volkmann, Volkmann; contractuur, Volkmann; ischemische contractuur, contractuur; Volkmann, contractuur; spier, ischemisch (Volkmann), spier; contractuur, ischemisch (Volkmann)
German Volkmann-Kontraktur ischaemisch, Volkmann-Kontraktur, Volkmannsche ischämische Kontraktur, Ischämische Kontraktur, Kontraktur, Volkmann-, Volkmannsche Kontraktur
Italian Contrattura ischemica di Volkmann, Contrattura ischemica, Contrattura di Volkmann
Portuguese Contractura isquémica de Volkmann, Contratura Isquêmica, Contratura de Volkmann
Spanish Contractura isquémica de Volkmann, Contractura Isquémica, Contractura de Volkmann, contractura de Volkmann (trastorno), contractura de Volkmann, contractura isquémica de Volkmann, síndrome de Volkmann
Finnish Iskeeminen kontraktuura
French Contracture ischémique, Contracture ischémique de Volkmann, Contracture de Volkmann
Japanese フォルクマンキョケツセイコウシュク, フォルクマン虚血性拘縮, Volkmann拘縮, 虚血性拘縮, 阻血性拘縮, 拘縮-虚血性, フォルクマン拘縮, 拘縮-Volkmann, 欠乏性拘縮
Swedish Ischemisk kontraktur
Czech Volkmannova ischemická kontraktura, Volkmannova kontraktura, ischemická kontraktura
Polish Przykurcz niedokrwienny, Przykurcz z niedokrwienia, Przykurcz ischemiczny Volkmana, Przykurcz ischemiczny, Przykurcz Volkmana
Hungarian Volkmann-féle ischaemiás contractura, Volkmann ischaemiás contractura
Norwegian Ischemisk kontraktur, Volkmann-kontraktur, Volkmanns kontraktur, Iskemisk kontraktur