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Compartment Pressures in Children With Normal and Fractured Forearms: A Preliminary Report


Tharakan, Sasha J; Subotic, Ulrike; Kalisch, Markus; Staubli, Georg; Weber, Daniel M (2016). Compartment Pressures in Children With Normal and Fractured Forearms: A Preliminary Report. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, 36(4):410-415.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) can lead to irreversible damage if fasciotomy is not performed in a timely manner. Needle manometry is a tool to confirm suspected ACS. The threshold for compartment pressures that can be tolerated has been debated. The aim of this study is to assess the normal compartment pressures in noninjured forearms of children. Further, we sought to quantify the maximum tolerable compartment pressures in fractured forearms of children, thus establishing a baseline and providing guidance in evidence-based decision making to evaluate children with suspected ACS. METHODS This prospective study included children up to the age of 16 years with forearm fractures that needed reduction with or without osteosynthesis. Between June 2009 and March 2013, 41 children were included. Mean age was 9.25 years (range, 4 to 15.4 y). We used needle manometry to measure the pressures in the superficial and deep volar as well as in the dorsal compartments (DCs) on both the forearms. The mean pressures between compartments in healthy versus injured arms were analyzed using a 1-sided, paired t test. RESULTS On the injured side, the mean compartment pressure was 19.12 mm Hg (range, 3 to 49 mm Hg) in the deep volar compartment, 15.56 mm Hg (range, 5 to 37 mmHg) in the DC, and 14.8 mm Hg (range, 2 to 35 mm Hg) in the superficial volar compartment. On the noninjured side, the mean compartment pressure was 12.9 mm Hg (range, 6 to 31 mm Hg) in the DC, 10.22 mm Hg (range, 3 to 22 mm Hg) in the deep volar compartment, and 9.66 mm Hg (range, 3 to 21 mm Hg) in the superficial volar compartment. We measured an absolute compartment pressure of >30 mm Hg in 15 patients on the fractured side. Three of them had an absolute compartment pressure of >45 mm Hg. Only 1 had ACS. This patient underwent fasciotomy and was excluded for further analysis. On follow-up (mean, 24.84 mo), no patient was found to have any sequelae of ACS. DISCUSSION This is the first study to report normal compartment pressure measurements in noninjured forearms and in fractured forearms without clinical suspicion of ACS in children.The mean compartment pressure measured in the deep volar compartment (DVC) in healthy children was 10.22 mm Hg (range, 3 to 22 mm Hg) and therefore slightly higher than in adults. Some children with fractures tolerated absolute compartment pressures >30 mm Hg without clinical signs of ACS. Fasciotomy in children under close observation could eventually be delayed despite surpassing the accepted pressure limits for adults. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic level I. See instructions to authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) can lead to irreversible damage if fasciotomy is not performed in a timely manner. Needle manometry is a tool to confirm suspected ACS. The threshold for compartment pressures that can be tolerated has been debated. The aim of this study is to assess the normal compartment pressures in noninjured forearms of children. Further, we sought to quantify the maximum tolerable compartment pressures in fractured forearms of children, thus establishing a baseline and providing guidance in evidence-based decision making to evaluate children with suspected ACS. METHODS This prospective study included children up to the age of 16 years with forearm fractures that needed reduction with or without osteosynthesis. Between June 2009 and March 2013, 41 children were included. Mean age was 9.25 years (range, 4 to 15.4 y). We used needle manometry to measure the pressures in the superficial and deep volar as well as in the dorsal compartments (DCs) on both the forearms. The mean pressures between compartments in healthy versus injured arms were analyzed using a 1-sided, paired t test. RESULTS On the injured side, the mean compartment pressure was 19.12 mm Hg (range, 3 to 49 mm Hg) in the deep volar compartment, 15.56 mm Hg (range, 5 to 37 mmHg) in the DC, and 14.8 mm Hg (range, 2 to 35 mm Hg) in the superficial volar compartment. On the noninjured side, the mean compartment pressure was 12.9 mm Hg (range, 6 to 31 mm Hg) in the DC, 10.22 mm Hg (range, 3 to 22 mm Hg) in the deep volar compartment, and 9.66 mm Hg (range, 3 to 21 mm Hg) in the superficial volar compartment. We measured an absolute compartment pressure of >30 mm Hg in 15 patients on the fractured side. Three of them had an absolute compartment pressure of >45 mm Hg. Only 1 had ACS. This patient underwent fasciotomy and was excluded for further analysis. On follow-up (mean, 24.84 mo), no patient was found to have any sequelae of ACS. DISCUSSION This is the first study to report normal compartment pressure measurements in noninjured forearms and in fractured forearms without clinical suspicion of ACS in children.The mean compartment pressure measured in the deep volar compartment (DVC) in healthy children was 10.22 mm Hg (range, 3 to 22 mm Hg) and therefore slightly higher than in adults. Some children with fractures tolerated absolute compartment pressures >30 mm Hg without clinical signs of ACS. Fasciotomy in children under close observation could eventually be delayed despite surpassing the accepted pressure limits for adults. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Prognostic level I. See instructions to authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Surgery
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:June 2016
Deposited On:05 Feb 2016 11:37
Last Modified:26 Feb 2017 08:04
Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:0271-6798
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/BPO.0000000000000471
PubMed ID:25851687

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