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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Dec;92(12):1700-2. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B12.25225.

Four-limb compartment syndrome associated with the systemic capillary leak syndrome.

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  • 1Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital, General Campus, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Canada, K1H 8L6.


Systemic capillary leak syndrome, or the Clarkson syndrome, is an extremely rare condition in which increased capillary permeability results in a massive shift of fluid into the extravascular space. This is followed rapidly by hypotensive shock, haemoconcentration, and, potentially, substantial oedema of the limbs resulting in an acute compartment syndrome. It is important for orthopaedic surgeons to be aware of this syndrome as our medical colleagues, who initially care for these patients, are less familiar with the diagnosis and the need for emergency management of the associated compartment syndrome should it develop. There have been fewer than 100 cases of this entity reported. This case report is the first to describe the subsequent development of a compartment syndrome in all four limbs. Clinical vigilance and continuous monitoring of intracompartmental pressure is necessary in these patients in order to help reduce limb-threatening complications.

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