Lower Extremity Compartment Syndrome From Prolonged Limb Compression and Immobilization During an Airborne Operation

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Smedick BC, van Wyck D 16(3). 5 - 9 (Journal Article)

Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) involving the leg can occur in association with various traumatic and nontraumatic conditions, and it can have serious longterm consequences when unrecognized or untreated. Nontraumatic causes of ACS, such as those associated with cases of prolonged immobilization and/or extremity compression, can be easily overlooked, and several cases of ACS occurring with prolonged surgical positioning can be found in the literature. We present the case of a 19-year-old Army paratrooper who developed acute anterior and lateral compartment syndrome of the lower extremity after being immobilized in an aircraft for hours with several hundred pounds of equipment compressing his lower extremities. To our knowledge, this is the first documented case of ACS occurring as a result of prejump conditions. It demonstrates a potentially serious complication that could result in medical separation and/or permanent disability of the service member. ACS of the extremity should be considered in any Soldier who is required to bear heavy loads, is immobilized for several hours at a time, and complains of symptoms such as extremity pain, numbness, and weakness.

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