UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Compartment Syndrome - Making the diagnosis

Keywords: compartment syndrome, diagnosis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/18/2015 by Michael Bond, MD
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a diagnosis that needs to be made quickly in order to prevent long term muscle, nerve, and vascular compromise.

Two pieces of information are needed to determine if the patient has compartment syndrome.

  1. The patient's diastolic blood pressure (DBP) value
  2. The pressure value obtained from the compartment of concern (Compartment pressure)

Diastolic Pressure - Compartment pressure < 30 makes the diagnosis of compartment syndrome

So if a diastolic blood pressure is 80 and the compartment pressure is 40 the difference is 40 mmHg and the patient likely does not need a fasciotomy.  The diagnosis can only be 100% onfirmed by a trip to the OR so these values should still be discussed with your local orthopaedist.  When calling them just make sure you know both the DBP and the compartment pressure so that it can be interpreted correctly.