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Foot Ankle Int. 2009 Sep;30(9):847-53. doi: 10.3113/FAI.2009.0847.

Management of long-term sequelae of compartment syndrome involving the foot and ankle.

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CHU de Nantes, France.



Lower leg compartment syndrome can lead to severe sequelae affecting patient autonomy. Ischemic muscle fibrosis and retraction result in foot and ankle deformities ranging from claw toes to complex multiplanar dislocations with soft tissue impairment requiring amputation. Although these deformities have been reported in relation to compartment syndrome, they have rarely been discussed specifically in the light of a long term follow up.


Between 1981 and 2006, 151 patients were treated in our hospital for compartment syndrome of the lower limb. Ten of them later required further surgery to treat sequelae on the foot and ankle and were followed up prospectively. Personal data and surgical events were recorded, as well as potential risk factors for sequelae and functional outcome. The data was analyzed and compared to that available in previous literature. We analyzed and describe the different surgical procedures available for the management of this condition including arthroscopic ankle arthrodesis which could be a less invasive and efficient technique in mild equinus deformities.


All ten patients were diagnosed late for compartment syndrome. The anterior and lateral compartments were most often involved but rarely accounted for late sequelae. The deep posterior compartment seems to be the key element in generating after effects. Functional results were good in eight patients. Two required amputation after failed secondary surgery.


The late, post-compartment syndrome affecting the foot and ankle can be treated efficiently provided surgery is performed acurately, taking into account the multiplanar deformity. However, the best treatment for this condition remains prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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