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Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
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My father suffered serious burns in a car accident. He's in stable condition but now they say he has compartment syndrome in his right leg. What happens next? What's the treatment for this?

Acute compartment syndrome is a serious medical condition that occurs most often after a traumatic injury such as fracture, contusion, or burns. In the case of a burn the skin can't stretch and flex for swelling underneath. It starts to act like the outside covering of a sausage.

There are serious consequences without proper treatment. The doctors may measure the compartment pressure several times before deciding on treatment. The measures will help them determine if the condition is getting better or worse. They may not take actual measurements but rather go on the basis of the history and clinical presentation.

Sometimes all that's needed is proper positioning so the blood can flow to the area. For example, the leg should be kept down below the level of the heart. Movement and active contraction of the muscle is important to keep the fluids moving and prevent swelling.

If this doesn't work, surgery may be needed. The surgeon may need to make a cut along the skin to release the pressure. Burn patients have some unique problems that require special consideration. The skin may need to be replaced with grafts. There's always a concern for infection. Close monitoring is needed.


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