Medical Definition of Compartment syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Compartment syndrome: A condition in which there is swelling and an increase in pressure within a limited space (a compartment) that presses on and compromises blood vessels, nerves, and/or tendons that run through that compartment. Hence, the function of tissue within that compartment is compromised.

Compartment syndromes usually involve the leg but can also occur in the forearm, arm, thigh, shoulder, and buttock. Some of the causes of increased pressure in compartment syndromes are trauma (for example, a fracture), too-tight wound dressings or casts, hemorrhage (bleeding) into the compartment, or inflammation (carpal tunnel syndrome, for example).

Symptoms of a compartment syndrome include numbness, tingling, pain or loss of movement in an extremity. Sequelae (the lasting effects) can include nerve compression, paralysis, contracture or even death. Prompt surgical treatment if it is diagnosed early is the key to successful management.

Treatment is to relieve the pressure; if symptoms are severe or prolonged, surgery may be needed.

Picture of Compartment Syndrome

CONTINUE SCROLLING OR CLICK HERE FOR RELATED ARTICLE
Reviewed on 12/11/2018

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors