BACKGROUND:
Acute compartment syndrome is a serious and not uncommon complication of limb trauma. The condition is a surgical emergency, and is associated with significant morbidity if not managed appropriately. There is variation in management of acute limb compartment syndrome in Australia.

METHODS:
Clinical practice guidelines for the management of acute limb compartment syndrome following trauma were developed in accordance with Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations. The guidelines were based on critically appraised literature evidence and the consensus opinion of a multidisciplinary team involved in trauma management who met in a nominal panel process.

RESULTS:
Recommendations were developed for key decision nodes in the patient care pathway, including methods of diagnosis in alert and unconscious patients, appropriate assessment of compartment pressure, timing and technique of fasciotomy, fasciotomy wound management, and prevention of compartment syndrome in patients with limb injuries. The recommendations were largely consensus based in the absence of well-designed clinical trial evidence.

CONCLUSIONS:
Clinical practice guidelines for the management of acute limb compartment syndrome following trauma have been developed that will support consistency in management and optimize patient health outcomes.





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