Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Knee News

Anterior Compartment Syndrome: No Time to Lose

In this case report of an injured athlete, doctors point out the need for immediate surgery when compartment syndrome is present. A 17-year-old soccer player was hit in the left thigh when he crashed into another player.

Bleeding and swelling into the area put so much pressure on the skin and soft tissues underneath that surgery was needed to release the pressure. This condition is called anterior compartment syndrome. Three incisions were made and fluid removed from the thigh. This type of surgery is called a fasciotomy. The pain and swelling went down quickly. Sensation improved and lab tests to measure bleeding went back to normal.

Three days later the patient had a second operation to sew the wound back up. The patient healed normally and returned to full sports participation within six months' time. Without proper treatment damage to the muscle can't be reversed. Infection and death are even possible.

The authors say this case points out the need for quick diagnosis and fast response when compartment syndrome is present. Full recovery may not be possible with delayed treatment.

Daniel W. Golden, MD, et al. Acute Compartment Syndrome of the Thigh in a High School Soccer Player. In The Physician and Sportsmedicine. December 2005. Vol. 33. No. 12. Pp. 19-24.


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