Changes in leg pain after bilateral fasciotomy to treat chronic compartment syndrome: a case series study
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Background: Intracompartmental pressure (ICP) as the diagnostic gold standard in the management of chronic compartment syndrome (CCS) is debated. We present a diagnostic protocol in which the decision to operate can be based upon clinical findings alone. The aim of this study was to examine whether patients who underwent surgery for CCS based on clinical findings experienced significant long-term pain relief.
Methods: A standardized clinical examination, including skin sensitivity, was performed in patients with bilateral leg pain and/or cramps. Before and after a symptom-provoking step test, ICPs were measured. The primary outcome was self-reported leg pain measured on a visual analogue scale. Secondary outcomes were satisfaction with the treatment result and health-related quality of life (HRQL) measured with the SF-8 questionnaire. Postoperative data were collected after 2 years.
Results: Follow-up was completed for 37 of 40 patients. ICP was increased in 80.5% of the compartments examined before surgery, but did not correlate with the degree of leg pain. The remaining compartments were diagnosed as CCS based on clinical findings, despite ICPs below the threshold. Leg cramps occurred in 32 of 37 (86.5%) patients during physical activity and at night. Leg pain improved from a score of 8.0 ± 1.5 to 2.3 ± 2.1, P < 0.001. Satisfaction with the treatment result was reported by 81.1% of the patients, accompanied by normalized HRQL.
Conclusions: The diagnostic protocol led to a fasciotomy in all compartments of both legs, which was associated with substantial and sustained relief of leg pain, improved HRQL, and patient satisfaction.
CitationJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
Jan Roar Orlin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.