Acute lumbar paraspinal compartment syndrome: a systematic review.
While still a rare entity, acute lumbar paraspinal compartment syndrome has an increasing incidence. Similar to other compartment syndromes, acute lumbar paraspinal compartment syndrome is defined by raised pressure within a closed fibro-osseous space, limiting tissue perfusion within that space. The resultant tissue ischaemia presents as acute pain, and if left untreated, it may result in permanent tissue damage. A literature search of 'paraspinal compartment syndrome' revealed 21 articles. The details from a case encountered by the authors are also included. A common data set was extracted, focusing on demographics, aetiology, clinical features, management and outcomes. There are 23 reported cases of acute compartment syndrome. These are typically caused by weight-lifting exercises, but may also result from other exercises, direct trauma or non-spinal surgery. Pain, tenderness and paraspinal paraesthesia are key clinical findings. Serum creatine kinase, magnetic resonance imaging and intracompartment pressure measurement confirm the diagnosis. Half of the reported cases have been managed with surgical fasciotomy, and these patients have all had good outcomes relative to those managed with conservative measures with or without hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These good outcomes were despite significant delays to operative intervention. The diagnostic uncertainty and subsequent delay to fasciotomy result from the rarity of this disease entity, and a high level of suspicion is recommended in the appropriate setting. This is particularly true in light of the current popularity of extreme weight lifting in non-professional athletes. Operative intervention is strongly recommended in all cases based on the available evidence.