Exertional Compartment Syndrome of the Thigh: A Rare Diagnosis and Literature Review

Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
Journal of Emergency Medicine (Impact Factor: 0.97). 07/2008; 39(2):e93-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.10.081
Source: PubMed


Exercise-induced acute compartment syndrome of the thigh is an uncommon entity. We present a rare case of bilateral exercise-induced three-compartment syndrome of the thighs that required fasciotomies. The objective of this study was to understand the history, physical examination, signs, symptoms, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of compartment syndrome and rhabdomyolysis. A 42-year-old man presented to the Emergency Department (ED) complaining of worsening pain and swelling in both thighs 45 h after performing a lower extremity exercise regimen. The patient's thighs were tender and swollen, but there was no ecchymosis or evidence of trauma. Admitting serum creatinine kinase (CK) was 106,289 U/L. Treatment for rhabdomyolysis was initiated. The next day, he complained of escalating bilateral thigh pain. Repeat serum CK was 346,580 U/L. The patient was diagnosed with bilateral thigh compartment syndrome and immediately taken to the operating room for fasciotomies. Postoperatively, the patient's symptoms improved rapidly and his serum CK quickly returned to normal. His incisions were closed and he returned to normal activities of daily living. Because exercise-induced compartment syndrome is an extremely rare diagnosis with a high risk of poor outcome, this article serves to emphasize the importance of considering this diagnosis during the work-up of patients presenting to the ED with rhabdomyolysis.

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    • "Exercise-induced CS has been described in the hand, forearm, leg and thigh, generally developing 24 to 48┬áhours after exercise [2-5]. Acute CS of the paravertebral muscles without external trauma has rarely been reported. "
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    ABSTRACT: Acute compartment syndrome (CS) of the paravertebral muscles without external trauma is rarely reported in literature. Not all of clinical symptoms for CS are applicable to the paravertebral region. A 30-year-old amateur rugby player was suffering from increasing back pain following exertional training specially targeting back muscles. He presented with hardly treatable pain of the lumbar spine, dysaesthesia of the left paravertebral lumbar region as well as elevated muscle enzymes. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed an edema of the paravertebral muscles. Compartment pressure measurement revealed increased values of 47 mmHg on the left side. Seventy-two hours after onset of back pain a fasciotomy of the superficial thoracolumbar fascia was performed. Immediately postoperatively the clinical condition improved and enzyme levels significantly decreased. The patient started with light training exercises 3 weeks after the operation. We present a rare case of an exercise-induced compartment syndrome of the paravertebral muscles and set it in the context of existing literature comparing various treatment options and outcomes. Where there is evidence of paravertebral compartment syndrome we recommend immediate fasciotomy to prevent rhabdomyolysis and further consequential diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
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    Preview · Article · Jan 2010 · Injury Extra
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    ABSTRACT: Exertional rhabdomyolysis (ER) is a serious medical issue usually seen in individuals or patients after engaging in heavy exertion and physical activity. The incidence, natural course, and recurrence of ER are, by and large, unknown. Given the lack of rigorous scientific data that are specific for ER, most of the patients with ER receive treatment in an inpatient setting even with only a mild elevation of creatine phosphokinase (CPK) level. Often, patients receive inpatient treatment solely on the basis of elevated CPK (<3000 IU) even in the absence of other serious signs and symptoms of ER. We intent to describe 2 case reports that involve patients who developed ER after an intense physical exertion and were managed in an outpatient setting with close follow-up. In the discussion part, we point suggest that in patients with a relatively mild CPK elevation (<15,000 IU) and normal creatinine value and in the absence of factors such as profound dehydration, sickle cell trait, concomitant infectious cause, underlying metabolic syndrome, and current and ongoing use of analgesics, the complications after ER are low. Patients who develop ER, who can be reliably followed up, and who fulfills these criteria can be managed as outpatients.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2010 · Pediatric emergency care
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