Compartment syndrome is a rare but important complication which may occur following injury or surgery to the lower limb. We present a case of contralateral gluteal compartment syndrome following arthroscopic posterior cruciate ligament repair.
In order to gain a greater understanding of this complication, we undertook a limited study to investigate the effect of patient position on gluteal compartment pressures.
Three volunteers were positioned in such a way as to recreate the intra-operative position of the patient described. Gluteal compartment pressures were calculated by placing weighing scales under each buttock and measuring the surface area over which the weight was distributed.
Mean pressures exerted on the gluteal compartment of the non-operated leg were significantly higher (mean=44 mmHg) than those of the operated leg (mean=24 mmHg). The difference was significant with P<0.001.
This limited study has shown that care should be taken when positioning patients on an operating table to reduce the risk of compartment syndrome. Factors that should be taken into account include mean diastolic pressure, length of operation and the surface area in contact with the operating table.
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Accepted: April 9, 2002
© 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.