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Injury. 2002 Mar;33(2):117-21.

The impact of lower leg compartment syndrome on health related quality of life.

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Level 5, C.S.B., Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, University of Leeds, St James's Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK.


Although the aetiology, pathophysiology and treatment of acute compartment syndrome have been well described in the literature, there is limited information on the long-term impact of compartment syndrome on quality of life. We reviewed the medical records and radiographs of all the patients treated with surgical decompression of compartment syndrome. Between 1993 and 1998, 42 cases were identified. There were 30 cases of tibial compartment syndrome and 12 cases involving other limbs. These 30 patients were recalled for a follow-up assessment during which they were asked to complete an EQ-5D (EuroQol), a standardised measure of health related quality of life based on five dimensions (self-care, pain/discomfort, mobility, usual activities and anxiety/depression). Patients were compared with EQ-5D age/sex norms derived from a randomly selected group of patients that had sustained isolated closed tibial shaft fractures. The minimum follow-up time was 12 months. Patients who stated that the appearance of the surgical site was a problem, reported significantly poorer health related quality of life than did patients who had no problem with the appearance. Patients with skin graft reported more problems with pain and discomfort than patients without skin graft. Patients with faster closure times of the wound showed significantly better self-rated health status than patients in whom the wound closure time was longer. Although the patients in this study reported significantly more problems on the dimensions of EQ-5D than were reported in the control group, their overall self-rated health was not statistically different. This study has demonstrated that compartment syndrome may be associated with long-term impact on health related quality of life.

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