Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) is bleeding or swelling in an enclosed bundle (compartment) of muscles. It can block blood flow and lead to tissue death. ACS needs care right away.
|Compartment Syndrome in Lower Leg|
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Some causes are:
- A broken bone or crush injury (most common)
- A badly bruised muscle
- Prior surgery to repair a damaged or blocked blood vessel
- Problems that block blood flow to the limbs, such as a tight cast or bandage
This problem is more common in people who are 35 and younger. It is also more common in people who have had a tibial shaft fracture.
ACS may cause:
- Severe pain, especially with movement
- Tingling or burning
- A muscle that feels tight or full
- Numbness or problems moving
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with x-rays.
The pressure inside the compartment will be measured. This can be done with:
- Slit catheter
- Near-infrared spectroscopy
ACS can be deadly. Treatment is needed right away to ease pressure. This is done with a fasciotomy. This surgery makes a cut in the tissue to ease swelling and pressure in the compartment.
National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases http://www.niams.nih.gov
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Canadian Physiotherapy Association http://www.physiotherapy.ca
Acute compartment syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/acute-compartment-syndrome-emergency-management. Accessed February 15, 2021.
Compartment syndrome. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/compartment-syndrome. Accessed February 15, 2021.
Via AG, Oliva F, et al. Acute compartment syndrome. Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2015 Jan-Mar;5(1):18-22.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
- Review Date: 12/2020
- Update Date: 02/15/2021