Category: Airway Management
Keywords: leg pain, compartment syndrome (PubMed Search)
Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome (PAES)
CC: Exertional lower leg pain, however, compression of posterior neurovascular structures can lead to nonspecific vascular and neurogenic symptoms.
Challenging diagnosis to make because of close overlap with chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS).
Anatomic PAES has a prevalence of 0.62% to 3.5% in the general population. Patients are more likely to be older be older, male, and have lower levels of activity.
Functional popliteal artery entrapment (FPAE) however has no anatomic anomaly. Sx’s are thought to be because of bulky surrounding muscle crowding with repetitive dynamic injury. This is most commonly from the medial head of the gastrocnemius. Patients are younger and more likely to be involved in athletics. Most athletes were involved in sports that put high value on repetitive plantarflexion, such as track and field (45%), soccer (25%), water sports (8%), lacrosse (6%), basketball (6%),
Sx’s: bilateral (25-75% of cases) cramping in the region of the soleus and plantar paresthesias.
Common exacerbating mechanism: ascending stairs or climbing inclines because of leg/knee position of extension with plantarflexion
In one review, 31% of patients who underwent debulking surgery for FPAES had been previously treated and extensively worked up at outside institutions for CECS, and already undergone various compartment releases.
Patients in one study underwent a dynamic CTA protocol. A positive test demonstrated normal flow in neutral position and compression or complete occlusion of the popliteal artery by the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle against the lateral femoral condyle with provocative foot plantarflexion. Images below.
Nearly three-fourths of athletes limited by FPAES demonstrated full return to prior competitive levels with four compartment fasciotomy AND surgical debulking of the anterolateral quadrant of the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle.
Lawley RJ,et al., Concurrent Diagnosis of Functional Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome and Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome in Athletes. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2022 Oct 1;21(10):366-370.