Compartment syndrome of the extremity may occur after severe trauma secondary to fractures, vascular ischemia, crush, or electrical injury. Treatment consists of expedient fasciotomy to avoid permanent injury to muscles or nerves. Management of the wounds postoperatively has consisted traditionally of primary closure, healing by secondary intention, or split-thickness skin grafting to cover defects. The fasciotomy wound may remain substantial secondary to soft-tissue swelling and edema. The authors present an alternative protocol for fasciotomy wound management, consisting of gradual closure with progressive tension using vessel loops. The vessel loops are placed intraoperatively during the compartment release and are attached to the wound margins using standard skin staples. The loops are tightened progressively postoperatively during routine dressing changes, resulting in closure of the wound within 2 weeks. The advantages over split-thickness grafting include avoidance of donor morbidity and better cosmesis. Sporadic case reports using similar techniques have been published in the orthopedic literature with comparable results. The current series includes 37 patients, ages 9 to 48 years, who were treated for open fasciotomy. There were 11 upper extremity and 26 lower extremity wounds treated, all of which were closed within 3 weeks.
Ann Plast Surg
The vessel loop shoelace technique for closure of fasciotomy wounds.