A patient who takes anabolic steroids is at increased risk for developing a compartment syndrome following trauma. Anabolic steroids cause an expansion in skeletal muscles which may be compressed by the delimiting fascia even before the effect of traumatic injuries.


Patient selection: use or abuse of an anabolic steroid


Risk factors:

(1) motor vehicle accident

(2) trauma associated with physical exertion

(3) fall

(4) hypercoagulable state

(5) crush injury

(6) fractures


A clue to the diagnosis is the presence of the compartment syndrome in body regions not affected by trauma.



(1) swelling of affected compartment

(2) poor perfusion (dusky, cold, weak or absent pulses)

(3) distal neuropathy

(4) pain


Complications may include:

(1) rhabdomyolysis

(2) ischemia of tisues within the affected compartment

(3) hyperkalemia

(4) arterial thromboses


Emergency fasciotomies are necessary to preserve the tissues within the affected compartments.


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