Compartment Syndrome Claims

Individuals : Medical Negligence Claims

Compartment Syndrome Claims

Compartment syndrome is caused by an increased pressure within a closed anatomical space, such as your thigh, which compromises the circulation and function of the tissues within that space. This may result in temporary or permanent damage to muscles and nerves. Compartment syndrome may be acute or chronic:-

  • Acute compartment syndrome is most often caused by trauma, which may be relatively minor. Intense exercise can also cause acute compartment syndrome. Acute compartment syndrome requires prompt diagnosis and urgent treatment.
  • Chronic compartment syndrome is usually caused by exercise and presents with recurrent pain and disability, which subside when the cause (usually running) is stopped but return when the activity is resumed.

Compartment syndrome can occur wherever a compartment is present. Therefore, although the upper and lower limbs are most commonly affected, other sites may be affected, particularly the abdomen and gluteal regions. Common causes include:-

  • Fractures, especially fractures of the forearm and lower leg that have been internally fixed with metalwork or infected.
  • Crush injury.
  • Burns.
  • Infection.
  • Prolonged limb compression (immobilisation in a tight plaster cast).
  • Vascular; ischaemia-reperfusion injury, haemorrhage or phlegmasia caerulea dolens.
  • Iatrogenic; intramuscular injections, vascular puncture in anticoagulated patients.
  • Muscle hypertrophy in athletes who train repetitively at high intensity.

Acute compartment syndromes usually present within 48 hours of an injury. A high index of suspicion is required by the medical staff to avoid being held to be medically negligent at a later date if the risk is realised, especially with an unconscious patient following major trauma. The patient can be left facing multiple operations including muscle and skin grafts to correct it, if this is possible. Symptoms include:-

  • Increasing pain despite immobilisation of the fracture.
  • Sensory deficit in the distribution of nerves passing through the compartment.
  • Muscle tenderness and swelling.
  • Excessive pain on passive movement, increasing pain despite immobilisation.
  • Peripheral pulses may still be present.
  • Later features are of tissue ischaemia with pallor, pulselessness, paralysis, coolness and loss of capillary return.

Tissue necrosis (death) develops within about 12 hours, nerve dysfunction may be reversible with time but necrosed muscle is damaged permanently. Therefore, time is of the essence when compartment syndrome is diagnosed for decompression surgery to take place. If you feel you have received an adverse outcome caused by compartment syndrome, then we are happy to help you investigate the medical circumstances for you.

At Thomson & Bancks, our medical negligence specialists will deal sensitively and efficiently with your claim for compensation or that brought on behalf of a loved one’s Estate. The civil law attempts to place people back in the same place as they would have been had they not been injured by a medical mistake or left untreated so they have not fully recovered as they should have done.

Where that is not possible, an increasing amount of damages are payable for where the consequences have been more serious for you. Also, financial losses caused by the injury or non-recovery of your condition are claimable, for instance, if you are not able to return to work or require extra services because of a resulting disability which would have been avoided had there been no negligence.

If you or your family have been affected by medical negligence, please call our specialist Solicitor, Lucy Sherry, on 01242 235250 to find out if you may have a claim. We will offer you a first free interview to learn about the next steps and our ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements for funding your legal claim.

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