To critically reevaluate the indications for fasciotomy in vascular trauma of the extremities.
Level I trauma center.
Materials and Methods
One hundred sixty-three vascular injuries to the extremeties were analyzed. Fasciotomy as an adjunct to vascular repair was performed in 45 limbs (28%), based either on the nature of injury or measured compartment pressure of greater than 35 mm Hg.
Main Outcome Measures
Need for fasciotomy or limb amputation.
Fasciotomy was performed for 29.5% of isolated arterial injuries, 15.2% of isolated venous injuries, and 31.6% of combined arterial and venous injuries, and was not related to venous repair or ligation. Seven delayed fasciotomies were performed either for vascular repair failure (5 patients) or compartment syndrome (2 patients). The highest incidence was for popliteal vessel injury (arterial 57%, combined 61%). Of the 33 lower-extremity fasciotomies, 58% were for popliteal vessel injury. In 51 combined injuries of the lower extremity, only 7 (19%) of 38 patients with injury above the knee required fasciotomy, as compared with 8 (62%) of 13 with injury to the popliteal vessels (P<.001), with or without venous repair. There were 3 amputations, all resulting from vascular repair failure.
The presence of a combined vascular injury or the need for venous ligation does not necessitate routine fasciotomy. The need for fasciotomy may be maximal for injuries to popliteal vessels.