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The Estimated Sensitivity and Specificity of Compartment Pressure Monitoring for Acute Compartment Syndrome
Margaret M. McQueen, MD, FRCSEd(Orth)1; Andrew D. Duckworth, MSc, MRCSEd1; Stuart A. Aitken, MRCSEd1; Charles M. Court-Brown, MD, FRCSEd(Orth)1
1 Edinburgh Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 51 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 4SU, Scotland. E-mail address for A.D. Duckworth: andrew.duckworth@yahoo.co.uk
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Investigation performed at the Edinburgh Orthopaedic Trauma Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

A commentary by Andrew H. Schmidt, MD, is linked to the online version of this article at jbjs.org.



Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Apr 17;95(8):673-677. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01731
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Abstract

Background: 

The aim of our study was to document the estimated sensitivity and specificity of continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring for the diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome.

Methods: 

From our prospective trauma database, we identified all patients who had sustained a tibial diaphyseal fracture over a ten-year period. A retrospective analysis of 1184 patients was performed to record and analyze the documented use of continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring and the use of fasciotomy. A diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome was made if there was escape of muscles at fasciotomy and/or color change in the muscles or muscle necrosis intraoperatively. A diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome was considered incorrect if it was possible to close the fasciotomy wounds primarily at forty-eight hours. The absence of acute compartment syndrome was confirmed by the absence of neurological abnormality or contracture at the time of the latest follow-up.

Results: 

Of 979 monitored patients identified, 850 fit the inclusion criteria with a mean age of thirty-eight years (range, twelve to ninety-four years), and 598 (70.4%) were male (p < 0.001). A total of 152 patients (17.9%) underwent fasciotomy for the treatment of acute compartment syndrome: 141 had acute compartment syndrome (true positives), six did not have it (false positives), and five underwent fasciotomy despite having a normal differential pressure reading, with subsequent operative findings consistent with acute compartment syndrome (false negatives). Of the 698 patients (82.1%) who did not undergo fasciotomy, 689 had no evidence of any late sequelae of acute compartment syndrome (true negatives) at a mean follow-up time of fifty-nine weeks. The estimated sensitivity of intracompartmental pressure monitoring for suspected acute compartment syndrome was 94%, with an estimated specificity of 98%, an estimated positive predictive value of 93%, and an estimated negative predictive value of 99%.

Conclusions: 

The estimated sensitivity and specificity of continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring for the diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome following tibial diaphyseal fracture are high; continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring should be considered for patients at risk for acute compartment syndrome.

Level of Evidence: 

Diagnostic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    References

    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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