Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 177-181

Common complication of crush injury, but a rare compartment syndrome

Department of Anesthesia/ICU and Pain Management, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar

Correspondence Address:
Nissar Shaikh
Department of Anesthesia/ICU and Pain Management, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.62124

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Compartment syndrome (CS) is a common complication of crush injury but it is rare to find bilateral gluteal compartment syndrome (BGCS). Only six cases of BGCS have been reported in the literature. This syndrome has been reported after crush injury, drug overdose, surgical positioning, and vascular surgery. Apart from CS, crush injury is associated with multi-system adverse effects and these patients are at high risk for renal failure and sepsis. CS patients may present with dehydration; coagulation disorders; elevated creatine phosphokinase and myoglobin levels; hyperkalemia and hypocalcaemia, which may cause life-threatening arrhythmias and therefore need urgent and aggressive therapy. The early goal in these patients is prevention of acute renal failure with aggressive fluid therapy, alkalinization of urine, and forced diuresis. Early treatment of hyperkalemia, antibiotic therapy, immunoprophylaxis, and wound care will minimize the risk of arrhythmias and sepsis. CS must be considered when any patient is diagnosed with crush injury syndrome. CS is defined as elevation of interstitial/intracompartmental pressure, leading to microvascular and myoneural dysfunction and secondary hypoxia; it may cause functional loss or even death if not detected early and treated properly. The increase in pressure in one or all compartments of the gluteal region causes CS with devastating effects on muscle and neurovascular bundles. CS is traditionally diagnosed on the basis of five 'p's: pain, pallor, paraesthesia, pulselessness and paralysis. Diagnosis of gluteal CS is difficult as the peripheral pulses are preserved and the condition is usually only diagnosed when neurological abnormality is noticed. Diagnosis of CS can be made by direct measurement of the compartment pressure and magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography. Gluteal CS is managed by fasciotomy and debridement of necrosed tissue, with secondary closure of fascia. A high index of suspicion is necessary for the early diagnosis of gluteal CS, and this will reduce the disability and complications as a consequence of this syndrome. The acute-care physician, the intensivist, and the trauma surgeon must be aware of this rare syndrome, as it can result in multiorgan dysfunction and death. Here we report a case of bilateral gluteal CS that was successfully treated in our trauma intensive care unit.

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