Extremity compartment syndrome following blunt trauma: a level I trauma center's 5-year experience



      Extremity compartment syndrome is a recognized complication of trauma. We evaluated its prevalence and outcomes at a suburban level 1 trauma center.


      The trauma registry was reviewed for all blunt trauma patients aged ≥18 years, admitted between 2010 and 2014. Chart review of patients with extremity compartment syndrome was performed.


      Of 6180 adult blunt trauma admissions, 83 patients developed 86 extremity compartment syndromes; two patients had compartment syndromes on multiple locations. Their (n = 83) median age was 44 years (interquartile range: 31.5-55.5). The most common mechanism of injury was motor vehicle/motor cycle accident (45.8%) followed by a fall (21.7%). The median injury severity score was 9 (interquartile range: 5-17); 65.1% had extremity abbreviate injury score ≥3. Notably, 15 compartment syndromes did not have an underlying fracture. Among patients with fractures, the most commonly injured bone was the tibia, with tibial plateau followed by tibial diaphyseal fractures being the most frequent locations. Fasciotomies were performed, in order of frequency, in the leg (n = 53), forearm (n = 15), thigh (n = 9), foot (n = 5), followed by multiple or other locations.


      Extremity compartment syndrome was a relatively uncommon finding. It occurred in all extremity locations, with or without an associated underlying fracture, and from a variety of mechanisms. Vigilance is warranted in evaluating the compartments of patients with extremity injuries following blunt trauma.


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