Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Orthopedic Teaching

Soft Tissue Case 8 Background

Compartments in the body are maintained by osseo-fascial borders. Compartment syndrome occurs when a critical pressure increase within a confined compartmental space causes a decline in tissue perfusion pressure [1].  If not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, irreversible tissue ischemia and necrosis can occur.

Most compartment syndromes are from fractures, burns, crush injuries, injection injuries, penetrating trauma, arterial injury, constrictive dressings/casts, reperfusion injuries, drug extravasation, or bleeding disorders [1].

The most common region to be affected is the lower leg (calf) followed by the forearm. The most common injury leading to compartment syndrome is a tibial shaft fracture [1].

However, compartment syndromes of the thigh, buttock, abdomen, hands, thigh, and feet also can occur.


compartmentsyndrome