Vacuum-Assisted Closure for Fasciotomy Wounds Following Compartment Syndrome of the Leg


This study evaluated the efficacy of vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) for treatment of fasciotomy wounds for traumatic compartment syndrome. The authors reviewed the records of a consecutive series of 34 patients who had compartment syndrome of the leg requiring the standard two-incision release of all four compartments and received the application of VAC therapy until the time of definitive wound closure or coverage. A matched series of 34 consecutive antecedent patients with the same entry criteria, except for the use of the VAC, were also studied and served as a control group. The main parameter of interest was the time to ‘‘definitive closure’’ (delayed primary closure with sutures or skin graft coverage) of the wounds. Of the 68 wounds in 34 patients managed with VAC, the average time to definitive closure for both the lateral and the medial wounds was 6.7 days. For the 70 wounds in the 34 control patients, the average time to definitive closure was 16.1 days. This difference in time to wound closure between the VAC group and the non-VAC group was statistically significant (p < .05). Subatmospheric treatment for compartment syndrome of the leg after fasciotomy theoretically helps to speed the resolution of the swelling and tissue edema that are often components of this clinical entity. Experimental work has shown vacuum-assisted wound management to be effective in hastening the resolution of wound edema, enhancing local blood flow, promoting granulation tissue, and thwarting bacterial colonization. These factors may account for its utility in the management of fasciotomy wounds in the setting of compartment syndrome of the leg. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 15(1):19–23, 2006)

Charlie C. Yang, MD, David S. Chang, MD, and Lawrence X. Webb, MD