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Complications of Compartment Syndrome

Complications of Compartment Syndrome

If compartment syndrome is not diagnosed and treated quickly enough, it can lead to a variety of complications for the patient concerned. If this is something that has happened to you or your loved one, you need to speak to a solicitor about the medical care you received, as you could be entitled to compensation.

What are the complications of compartment syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is when pressure increases within a confined space of the body, normally in a fascial compartment. Fascial compartments are protective layers of membrane that form around muscles.

If pressure increases within a fascial compartment, it will impinge upon the nerves and the blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood. Because of the lack of blood, oxygen will not be delivered to surrounding tissues, causing them to break down.

When the tissue is damaged in this way, the muscle cells begin to release chemicals that further increase the pressure within the compartment. The tissue will then continue to break down until it actually dies, which in medical terms is called becoming 'necrotic'.

Once compartment syndrome reaches this stage, it will result in a number of complications:-

  • Permanent nerve damage;
  • Permanent muscle damage;
  • Reduced function of the affected limb;
  • Permanent scarring from surgery;
  • Amputation (although this is rare);
  • Infection;
  • Kidney damage and kidney failure;
  • Death (in very rare cases).

Preventing the complications of compartment syndrome

The only way to prevent these complications is to diagnose and treat compartment syndrome before the tissue becomes irreparably damaged. Timely treatment in the form of a fasciotomy procedure will ensure that the blood supply to the tissue is restored, preventing it from becoming ischaemic (deficient in oxygen). Some experts suggest this treatment must be provided within six hours of the onset of symptoms if muscle necrosis is to be avoided.

Was your treatment delayed?

However, if there is a delay in the diagnosis and/or treatment of compartment syndrome, the limited blood and oxygen supply will damage the muscle, tissue and nerves. If there is a further delay, this damage will become so extensive that it is irreparable, meaning any subsequent treatment if ineffective. This will leave a patient with permanent complications that significantly hinders their day to day life.

If this delay occurs because medical professionals do not make a quick diagnosis, or because medical professionals do not appreciate the need for urgent treatment, there may be a case of medical negligence.

If your compartment syndrome was not diagnosed and treatment in a timely fashion, causing you to suffer complications, speak to a solicitor about claiming compensation.

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