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Does oedema following lower limb revascularisation cause compartment syndromes?

By D. J. Scott, M. J. Allen, P. R. Bell, M. McShane and M. R. Barnes


Oedema of the leg, particularly the calf, is a well-recognised complication following lower limb reconstructive vascular surgery, but its effect on the limb is unknown. In this study, anterior compartment pressures and calf circumference were measured in both the operated and non-operated limbs following femoropopliteal bypass in 15 patients. All the patients developed lower limb swelling, which was significantly greater than the non-operated limb, P less than 0.05 paired t test (day 2-5). There was a significant difference in the mean anterior compartment pressures between the operated and non-operated limbs on the third and fourth postoperative days for the overall and below knee group, P less than 0.05 (paired t test). However, none of the patients developed signs, symptoms or pressures indicative of a compartment syndrome. These results suggest that the oedema following reconstructive vascular surgery is subcutaneous rather than compartmental in origin and that compartment pressure measurements should only be undertaken if a fasciotomy is being contemplated

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Royal College of Surgeons of England
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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