Background: The diagnostic gold standard for diagnosing chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is a dynamic intracompartmental pressure (ICP) measurement of the muscle. The potential role of a repeat ICP (re-ICP) measurement in patients with persistent lower leg symptoms after surgical decompression or with ongoing symptoms after an earlier normal ICP is unknown.
Purpose: To study whether re-ICP measurements in patients with persistent CECS-like symptoms of the lower leg may contribute to the diagnosis of CECS after both surgical decompression and a previously normal ICP measurement.
Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Charts of patients who underwent re-ICP measurement of lower leg compartments (anterior [ant], deep posterior [dp], and/or lateral [lat] compartments) between 2001 and 2013 were retrospectively studied. CECS was diagnosed on the basis of generally accepted cutoff pressures for newly onset CECS (Pedowitz criteria: ICP at rest 15 mmHg, 30 mmHg after 1 minute, or 20 mmHg 5 minutes after a provocative test). Factors predicting recurrent CECS after surgery or after a previously normal ICP measurement were analyzed.
Results: A total of 1714 ICP measurements were taken in 1513 patients with suspected CECS over a 13-year observation period. In all, 201 (12%) tests were re-ICP measurements for persistent lower leg symptoms. Based on the proposed ICP cutoff values, CECS recurrence was diagnosed in 16 of 62 previously operated compartments (recurrence rate, 26%; 53 patients [64% female]; median age, 24 years; age range, 15-78 years). Recurrence rates were not different among the 3 lower leg CECS compartments (ant-CECS, 17%; dp-CECS, 33%; lat-CECS, 30%; (2) = 1.928, P = .381). Sex ((2) = 0.058, P = .810), age (U = 378, z = 1.840, P = .066), bilaterality ((2) = 0.019, P = .889), and prefasciotomy ICP did not predict recurrence. Re-ICP measurements evaluating 20 compartments with previously normal ICP measurements (15 patients [53% female]; mean age, 31 10 years) detected CECS in 3 compartments (15%, all ant-CECS).
Conclusion: Previous fasciotomy for lower leg CECS or previously normal muscle pressure (ICP) do not rule out CECS as a cause of persisting lower leg symptoms. Repeat ICP measurement may have a potential role in the evaluation of patients with persistent lower leg complaints. However, other reasons for lower leg exertional pain must always be considered prior to secondary surgery.
- intracompartmental pressure measurement
- muscle compartment pressure
- repeated ICP
- chronic exertional compartment syndrome
- INTRACOMPARTMENTAL PRESSURE
- ANTERIOR COMPARTMENT
- PARTIAL FASCIECTOMY