Lower Limb Compartment Syndrome: Course after Delayed Fasciotomy

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Objective To determine the end result of patients who underwent delayed fasciotomy, i.e., more than 35 hours for an established lower limb compartment syndrome.Design A retrospective review of patients undergoing delayed treatment for a closed injury of the lower extremity, where fasciotomy should ideally have been performed earlier.Materials and Methods Nine fasciotomies in five patients were identified where there was a delay of more than 35 hours after the injury. The average ischemic time was 56 hours (range 35-96 hours).Results One patient died of multiorgan failure and septicemia. The remaining four patients required lower limb amputation, because of local infection and septicemia. The one late amputation was performed 6 months after the injury, because the patient was left with a functionless insensate foot. Where recognition of an established compartment syndrome is delayed for more than 8 to 10 hours, we propose that the traditional inevitable fasciotomy be reassessed.

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