Compartment syndrome, an excess of pressure building inside an enclosed space in the body, usually results from bleeding or swelling after an injury. Dangerously high pressure impedes the flow of blood to and from the affected tissues and can cause permanent injury, or require emergency surgery to prevent permanent injury.

Groups of organs or muscles are organized into “compartments.” Connective tissue called fascia form the walls of these compartments. After an injury, blood or fluid may accumulate in the compartment, and the fascia cannot easily expand to accommodate the fluid causing the rise in pressure. Treatment requires a prompt diagnosis. If quickly treated, excessive pressure can be relieved without damaging blood vessels or tissue. A misdiagnosis or delay can cause severe tissue damage with loss of body function, amputation, or even death.

Based on the patient’s symptoms and complaints, and taking into account any injury that may have preceded the complaint, the doctor or hospital must rule out other possible causes of the pain. The onset of compartment syndrome varies from hours to days after the initial injury.

You should keep a few things in mind about your diagnosis.

1. Doctors and nurses are taught that compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. If a patient’s symptoms and complaints are ignored, or the hospital staff is not paying attention, and the patient goes untreated long enough, the results can be devastating.

2. There are tests a physician can perform to measure the pressure in compartments in patients whose injuries put them at risk for developing compartment syndrome, or whenever clinical signs and symptoms are absent or confusing.

3. Common symptoms of compartment syndrome include:

  • Excessive pain
  • Absence of color
  • Lack of feeling
  • Paralysis in the muscle
  • No blood flow

Complaints of any of these symptoms should be considered by the doctor to gauge the pressure within the muscle compartment.

4. Injuries or permanent bodily damage sustained due to a compartment syndrome complication may have been preventable. Many patients who suffer compartment syndrome lose more than the affected tissue. They have lost jobs, homes, life savings, mobility, and sometimes their lives.

If you were diagnosed, misdiagnosed, or suffered a compartment syndrome loss, contact Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 or send us an e-mail. Our medical malpractice lawyers are here to discuss your legal options and a possible malpractice suit.

Friday, 21 May 2010 22:40

Compartment Syndrome

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Acute Compartment Syndrome is an acute medical problem following injury, surgery or in most cases repetitive and extensive muscle use in which increased pressure (usually caused by inflammation) within a confined space and without proper treatment, may lead to nerve damage and muscle death. This condition is most commonly seen in the leg. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery known as a fasciotomy to allow the pressure to return to normal.

The connective tissue that defines the compartment does not stretch. A small amount of bleeding into the compartment, or swelling of the muscles within the compartment can cause the pressure to rise greatly.

Common Causes of Compartment Syndrome include:

  • Tibial or forearm fractures
  • Hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • IV Drug injection
  • Prolonged limb compression, crush injuries and burns
  • Casts

Signs and Symptoms: (Known as the 6 “P”s)

  • Pain out of proportion to what is expected
  • Paraesthesias (altered sensation)
  • Passive Stretch pain
  • Pulseless
  • Paralysis
  • Pressure on passive extension of the compartment

Pain is often reported early and almost universally. The patient usually reports deep, constant, and poorly localized pain that is usually out of proportion with the injury. Pain is aggravated by stretching the muscle group and is not relieved by medication up to and including Morphine.

Parestheisa is altered sensation e.g. “Sticks & Needles”.

Paralysis & Passive Stretch of the limb is usually a late finding. The affected compartment may feel very tense and firm as well as pressure.

Failure to relieve the pressure can result in necrosis (death) of tissue in that compartment and hypoxia (lack of oxygen) of those tissues. If left untreated, Acute Compartment Syndrome can lead to more severe conditions and loss of the affected limb.

If you you or a loved one is suffering from Compartment Syndrome, call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 to discuss your legal options or send us an e-mail at ggreen@gGreen.com.