Continuous Compartment Pressure Monitoring for Tibia Fractures: Does It Influence Outcome?

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Abstract

Background:

Compartment syndrome is common in acute fractures of the tibia. Early diagnosis is important, as delayed treatment leads to significant complications. Continuous compartment pressure monitoring has been recommended to prevent late diagnosis of compartment syndrome associated with tibia fractures. In this study, we aim to examine the effect of continuous compartment pressure monitoring on outcome in acute tibia fractures.

Methods:

We randomized 200 consecutive acute extra-articular tibia fractures into monitored and nonmonitored groups. The monitored group received continuous compartment pressure for 36 hours and the nonmonitored group received usual postoperative observations. In alert patients, the diagnosis of compartment syndrome was made clinically. In unconscious patients, a difference between compartment pressure and diastolic blood pressure (ΔP) of less than 30 mm Hg was the criteria for fasciotomy. Patients were assessed for late sequelae of compartment syndrome (sensory loss, muscle weakness, contracture, and toe clawing) at 6 months.

Results:

Eighty-nine percent of patients were followed up for a minimum of 6 months or to fracture union. There were five cases of compartment syndrome in the nonmonitored group and none in the monitored group. At 6 months, the complication rates and late sequelae in both groups were not significantly different. In the monitored group, there were 18 patients with ΔP less than 30 mm Hg, none of whom developed compartment syndrome or late sequelae. In both groups, patients with high energy or open fractures had significantly more late sequelae.

Conclusions:

Continuous compartment pressure monitoring is not indicated in alert patients who are adequately observed.

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