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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1996 Oct;78(10):1515-22.

Compartment syndromes of the hand.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Miami School of Medicine, Florida 33101, USA.

Abstract

We retrospectively reviewed the records of nineteen patients who had been managed with fasciotomy because of compartment syndrome of the hand. The patients were five months to sixty-seven years old and included ten adults and nine children. Seventeen patients were followed for an average of twenty-one months (range, one to fifty-eight months), one patient was lost to follow-up after discharge, and one patient died four days postoperatively. All of the patients had a tense, swollen hand and elevated pressure in at least one interosseous compartment. Eight patients also had a compartment syndrome of the forearm. The compartment syndromes developed after intravenous injections (eleven patients); after a gunshot wound, a crush injury, or a complication related to the use of an arterial line (two patients each); and after a complication related to an arthrodesis of the wrist or a crush injury due to prolonged pressure on the upper extremity secondary to a drug overdose (one patient each). Fifteen patients had an obtunded sensorium-either because of a serious illness or injury or secondary to prolonged anesthesia-when the compartment syndrome was recognized. In thirteen of these patients, including eight children and five adults, the compartment syndrome developed because of a complication related to the intravenous or intra-arterial administration of drugs. Carpal tunnel release and decompression of the involved compartments led to a satisfactory result for thirteen of the seventeen patients who were followed. The remaining four patients (including two children who had an amputation, one child who had impaired function of the hand secondary to brain damage, and one adult who had extensive involvement of the forearm and complete loss of function of the hand) had a poor result. All four of these patients had been obtunded when the compartment syndrome developed. The treating physician should maintain a high index of suspicion for a compartment syndrome of the hand when managing seriously ill, obtunded patients-particularly children-who are receiving multiple intravenous or intra-arterial injections.

PMID:
8876579
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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