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Compartment Syndrome After Urethroplasty

If you have developed compartment syndrome after a urethroplasty and it was not diagnosed in a timely fashion, you could be entitled to compensation for the prolonged pain and suffering you have endured. For more information about making a claim, contact a medical negligence solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

How does an urethroplasty lead to compartment syndrome?

A urethroplasty is a surgical procedure designed to repair an injury or defect within the walls of the urethra, such as a urethral stricture. In order to perform this surgery a patient will need to be placed in the lithotomy position, whereby the legs are kept elevated with the use of supports. The legs will remain in this position for the duration of the operation, which can take up to five hours. Evidently this is a long time for the legs to remain in the same position, and it is up to the surgical and anaesthetic team to ensure the legs are adequately protected so there is no damage to nerves and pressure points.

Nevertheless, nerve damage has been known to occur during urethroplasty surgery. This happens because the legs are raised for an extensive amount of time, something which can block the blood flow to the perineal region. Without a supply of oxygen and nutrients, the muscles and nerves in the surrounding area become damaged. This is known as compartment syndrome.

Although the problem may not be recognised during surgery, it will soon become apparent when a patient comes round from the anaesthetic. Symptoms such as persistent pain and cramps in the leg, ankle and leg weakness, as well as sensory disturbances in the foot will quickly develop, all of which are point towards compartment syndrome.

Does this amount to medical negligence?

It recognised by urethral surgeons that prolonged elevation of the legs in the lithotomy position can be associated with the development of compartment syndrome. It is not necessarily something that can be avoided, even if the surgical team perform their duties to the highest professional standard. It is an unfortunate risk of urethroplasty surgery, and so does not necessarily amount to medical negligence.

What will amount to negligence is if doctors fail to diagnose compartment syndrome in a timely fashion. As mentioned above, perineal nerve damage is a known hazard of urethroplasty. Should symptoms such as persistent pain and cramps in the leg follow such surgery, there should be a high index of suspicion that compartment syndrome is present. A surgical procedure called a fasciotomy should then be performed as quickly as possible, as this will relieve pressure to the perineal region and reduce the likelihood of permanent damage.

However, there are unfortunately occasions in which medical professionals fail to recognise the obvious clinical signs that indicate compartment syndrome, leaving a patient to endure a protracted period of pain and suffering. A delay in treatment also increases the probability of long-term injury to the nerves which a patient will have to live with for the rest of his life.

Was your compartment syndrome overlooked?

If you have developed compartment syndrome after a urethroplasty, and it was not diagnosed within a reasonable amount of time, you will be considered the victim of medical negligence. This is because in failing to make a diagnosis, doctors will not have provided an acceptable standard of care. You will therefore be entitled to claim compensation for the pain, suffering and financial loss this has caused you.

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