Keywords: orthopedics, compartment syndrome (PubMed Search)
We have learned how to diagnose compartment syndrome in adults, but how do you determine the early warning signs in a nonverbal or even frightened child?
Rising compartment pressures are related to increasing anxiety and agitation in children. A Boston study in 2001 showed that increasing pain medication requirements were detected 7 hours earlier than a vascular exam change. 90% of the patients with compartment syndrome in this study reported pain, but only 70% had another ‘P” (pallor, parasthesia, paralysis or pulselessness).
This has led to the proposal of the 3 “A”s for early identification of compartment syndrome in children: increasing anxiety, agitation and analgesia requirement.
Noonan and McCarthy. Compartment Syndrome in Pediatric Patients. Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics. Vol 30. No 2. March 2010.