Management of Acute Compartment Syndrome
This guideline was produced in collaboration with METRC, with funding provided by the US Department of Defense. Endorsed by: ACS and AOFAS
Patients may present with evidence of advanced compartment syndrome of uncertain but likely prolonged duration, as in the case of a patient found obtunded or incapacitated. When evidence of irreversible muscle ischemia and necrosis (rhabdomyolysis) is observed, as indicated by the presence of myoglobinuria, renal failure, and dramatic elevations in creatine phosphokines (CPK), fasciotomy may increase the potential for further reperfusion injury. In addition, exposure of necrotic muscle by performing fasciotomy may necessitate extensive debridement and create large wounds with the potential for soft tissue infection. For these reasons, the panel recommends that fasciotomy not be performed in such circumstances. In such cases where there is an associated fracture, operative fracture care should be approached with caution and fixation methods that do not violate the compartment (external fixation, casting) should be considered.