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Fasciotomy for chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the leg: clinical outcome in a large retrospective cohort

  • J. P. H. TamEmail author
  • A. G. F. Gibson
  • J. R. D. Murray
  • M Hassaballa
Original Article • LOWER LIMB - SPORT

Abstract

Background

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is an overuse disorder typically affecting an athletic population. CECS is a diagnosis based on history and intracompartmental pressure (ICP) testing. CECS patients can be treated surgically by fasciotomy; however, research on the relationship between ICP and patient symptoms and also between ICP and patient-reported outcome post-fasciotomy is limited. This study aims to (1) assess functional outcome and patient satisfaction post-fasciotomy and (2) identify any potential correlation between ICP and reported levels of pain.

Methods

138 CECS patients who had ICP measurements and subsequently underwent fasciotomy were identified from our regional service for exercise-induced lower limb extremity pain between January 2000 and March 2017. Clinical outcomes were recorded at the time of ICP testing and in the post-operative follow-up clinic. Pain was reported using a verbal rating scale (VRS) (‘low’, ‘moderate’ or ‘high’) or as a visual analogue score (VAS) 0–10 (0 = least painful, 10 = most painful). Spearman’s ranked correlation test was used to calculate correlation between ICP and reported pain.

Results

A total of 138 patients were eligible for inclusion in this study (mean age 29.7 ± 9.7 years, 110 M, 28 F) of which 109 patients (VRS n = 61, VAS n = 48) reported pain level at pre- and post-operative stages. Mean pre-operative VAS score was 8.52 ± 0.71, and decreased to 0.77 ± 0.69 post-operatively. An insignificant positive correlation (r = 0.046, two-tailed p = 0.76) was found between VAS pain and ICP. A significant moderate positive correlation (r = 0.497, two-tailed p = 0.01) was found between VRS pain and ICP.

Conclusion

Fasciotomy significantly reduces pain and increases activity levels in CECS patients. ICP was found to positively correlate with patient-reported pain.

Keywords

Chronic compartment syndrome Patient satisfaction Patient outcome Fasciotomy Compartment pressure 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr JPH Tam, Mr AGF Gibson, Mr JRD Murray and Dr M Hassaballa declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Avon Orthopaedic Centre, Southmead Hospital, Westbury-on-TrymBristolUK

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