A sneaky surgical emergency: Acute compartment syndrome. Retrospective analysis of 66 closed claims, medico-legal pitfalls and damages evaluation.
AIM In spite of recent advances in technology and technique, laparoscopic colorectal surgery is associated with increased operating times when compared with open surgery. This increases the risk of acute lower limb compartment syndrome. The aim of this review was to gain a better understanding of postoperative lower limb compartment syndrome following laparoscopic colorectal surgery and to suggest strategies to avoid its occurrence. METHOD A MEDLINE search was performed using the keywords 'compartment syndrome', 'laparoscopic surgery' and 'Lloyd-Davies position' between 1970 and 2008. All relevant articles were retrieved and reviewed. RESULTS A total of 54 articles were retrieved. Of the 30 articles in English, five were reviews, six were original articles and 19 were case reports, of which only one was following laparoscopic colorectal surgery. The remaining 24 were non-English articles. Of these, two were reviews and 22 were case reports, of which only one was following laparoscopic colorectal surgery. The incidence of acute compartment syndrome following laparoscopic colorectal surgery is unknown. The following are believed to be risk factors for acute lower limb compartment syndrome: the Lloyd-Davies operating position with exaggerated Trendelenburg tilt, prolonged operative times and improper patient positioning. Simple strategies are suggested to reduce its occurrence. CONCLUSION Simple preventative measures have been identified which may help to reduce the incidence of acute lower limb compartment syndrome. However, if suspected, timely surgical intervention with four-compartment fasciotomy remains the standard of care.