Compartment Syndrome: Time From Diagnosis to Fasciotomy


A definitive safe time to fasciotomy for compartment syndrome has not been established. Therefore, the records of 28 patients who had a fasciotomy for compartment syndrome at two trauma centers (18 level I, 10 level II) were reviewed to determine time from diagnosis to fasciotomy and clinical outcome. Average times at the two trauma centers (level I: 160 minutes, range, 50–315 minutes; level II: 105 minutes, range, 51–185 minutes) were significantly different. Ten patients (5 level I, 5 level II) with an average time from diagnosis to fasciotomy of 122 minutes (range, 70–185 minutes) sustained residual deficits. There was no correlation between time from diagnosis to fasciotomy and residual deficits. A time from diagnosis to fasciotomy as short as 70 minutes was associated with residual deficit, but a time as long as 315 minutes (patient with deficits) was associated with no functional deficits. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 14(3):117–121, 2005)

Brett M. Cascio, MD, Dhruv B. Pateder, MD, John H. Wilckens, MD, and
Frank J. Frassica, MD