Fasciotomy for chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the leg: clinical outcome in a large retrospective cohort

J. P.H. Tam*, A. G.F. Gibson, J. R.D. Murray, M. Hassaballa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is an overuse disorder typically affecting an athletic population. CECS is a diagnosis based on history and intracompartmental pressure (ICP) testing. CECS patients can be treated surgically by fasciotomy; however, research on the relationship between ICP and patient symptoms and also between ICP and patient-reported outcome post-fasciotomy is limited. This study aims to (1) assess functional outcome and patient satisfaction post-fasciotomy and (2) identify any potential correlation between ICP and reported levels of pain. Methods: 138 CECS patients who had ICP measurements and subsequently underwent fasciotomy were identified from our regional service for exercise-induced lower limb extremity pain between January 2000 and March 2017. Clinical outcomes were recorded at the time of ICP testing and in the post-operative follow-up clinic. Pain was reported using a verbal rating scale (VRS) (‘low’, ‘moderate’ or ‘high’) or as a visual analogue score (VAS) 0–10 (0 = least painful, 10 = most painful). Spearman’s ranked correlation test was used to calculate correlation between ICP and reported pain. Results: A total of 138 patients were eligible for inclusion in this study (mean age 29.7 ± 9.7 years, 110 M, 28 F) of which 109 patients (VRS n = 61, VAS n = 48) reported pain level at pre- and post-operative stages. Mean pre-operative VAS score was 8.52 ± 0.71, and decreased to 0.77 ± 0.69 post-operatively. An insignificant positive correlation (r = 0.046, two-tailed p = 0.76) was found between VAS pain and ICP. A significant moderate positive correlation (r = 0.497, two-tailed p = 0.01) was found between VRS pain and ICP. Conclusion: Fasciotomy significantly reduces pain and increases activity levels in CECS patients. ICP was found to positively correlate with patient-reported pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-485
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology
Issue number2
Early online date25 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019


  • Chronic compartment syndrome
  • Compartment pressure
  • Fasciotomy
  • Patient outcome
  • Patient satisfaction


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