In the absence of reliable evidence, it is the opinion of the work group that neuraxial anesthesia may complicate the clinical diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome. If neuraxial anesthesia is administered, frequent physical examination and/or pressure monitoring should be performed.

Management of Acute Compartment Syndrome
This guideline was produced in collaboration with METRC, with funding provided by the US Department of Defense.
As there is no objective, gold standard for the diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome, the clinician should seek an aggregate of data points (including physical examination findings, escalating need for pain medication, pain out of proportion of injury, perfusion pressure, absolute pressure). At the present, in the absence of adequate studies, we believe that the risk of neuraxial anesthesia delaying and/or masking signs/symptoms associated with impending compartment syndrome (including physical examination findings, need for pain medication, magnitude of pain) outweighs the potential benefits of this treatment modality in high risk patient populations. We acknowledge that this opinion is made in the setting of only isolated extremely low-quality case reports and case series, none of which meet standards for inclusion in this analysis. The current literature suggests both that regional anesthesia may delay diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome and that regional anesthesia does not mask timely diagnosis. If neuraxial anesthesia is administered, we recommend that more emphasis is placed on intra-compartmental pressure monitoring as well as break through pain despite regional anesthesia.

Furthermore, we believe that clinicians should be attentive to quantity of narcotic pain medications administered to patients as an indicator of impending acute compartment syndrome.