A compartment syndrome may develop in the thigh following a precipitating event. Prompt recognition and treatment can prevent long term complications.


Precipitating factors:

(1) blunt or penetrating trauma

(2) crush injury

(3) vascular injury or surgery, especially if both artery and vein are affected

(4) ischemia-reperfusion injury

(5) strenuous exercise


The presence of scarring from previous surgery or injury may increase the risk by limiting tissue expansion.


Clinical features:

(1) intense pain

(2) swelling

(3) elevated compartment pressure

(4) rhabdomyolysis with elevated serum CK and myoglobinuria


Muscle groups at risk:

(1) anterior (sartorius, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, intermedius, medialis, articularis genu)

(2) lateral



(1) fasciotomy

(2) extensive debridement of necrotic muscle

(3) delayed wound closure


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