Acute Compartment Syndrome
(ACS; Compartment Syndrome, Acute; Volkmann’s Ischemia)
How to Say It: com-PART-ment SIN-drome
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) is bleeding or swelling in an enclosed bundle (compartment) of muscles. It can block blood flow and lead to tissue death. ACS needs care right away.
Some causes are:
This problem is more common in people who are 35 and younger. It is also more common in people who have had a tibial shaft fracture.
ACS may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests will be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with x-rays.
The pressure inside the compartment will be measured. This can be done with:
ACS can be deadly. Treatment is needed right away to ease pressure. This is done with a fasciotomy. This surgery makes a cut in the tissue to ease swelling and pressure in the compartment.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Acute compartment syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/acute-compartment-syndrome-emergency-management. Accessed February 15, 2021.
Compartment syndrome. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/compartment-syndrome. Accessed February 15, 2021.
Via AG, Oliva F, et al. Acute compartment syndrome. Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2015 Jan-Mar;5(1):18-22.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 2/15/2021
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