Published: 2016-09-03

Compartment pressure changes after closed fractures of tibia

Manju G. Pillai


Background: Compartment syndrome is a potentially devastating situation. Raised intracompartmental pressure has been implicated as the primary pathogenic factor in compartment syndrome. The purpose of the study was early detection of compartment syndrome and corroborating the findings with other physical signs and symptoms, to prevent the onset of ischaemia and subsequent tissue changes that lead to crippling deformities.

Methods: The present study was conducted in the Department of Orthopaedics, Pushpagiri medical college hospital, Thiruvalla over a period of 12 months.  Closed fractures of tibia admitted to the casualty unit within 36 hours of injury were selected for the study. A total of 24 patients were included with the majority in the age group of 31– 45 years. Whitesides technique was used to measure the compartment pressure. A differential pressure of less than 30 mm Hg was taken as the criterion for diagnosis of compartment syndrome. 

Results: The present study included 24 patients with affected 25 limbs.15 out of 25 limbs were with lower third fractures (60%) followed by upper third 6 (24%) and middle third 4 (16%). Out of 25 limbs 20 cases (80%) had associated fracture of fibula and 5 (20%) were not associated. In this study, out of 32% cases with increased compartment pressure, one case with upper third fracture (above 45 mm Hg) and one of the case with middle third fracture (20-30 mm Hg) with associated fibula had underwent immediate fasciotomy.

Conclusion: Compartment pressure measurement is a very good index for predicting and preventing compartment syndrome. Fasciotomy to fully decompress all involved compartments is the definitive treatment for compartment syndrome in the great majority of cases. Delays in performing fasciotomy increase morbidity.


Ischemic contracture, Compartment syndrome, Closed fractures, Pressure changes

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