Acute compartment syndrome of the forearm: A case report of radius fracture with concomitant brachial artery transaction.

Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) is a surgical emergency that requires timely recognition and early management for a good outcome. We report a case of a 71- year-old male seen at the Emergency Department of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Malaysia, on anticoagulant therapy for valvular atrial fibrillation, who had sustained a closed fracture of the left distal end radius following a fall. Examination of the left upper limb showed deformity and tenderness over the left wrist, associated with swelling and a tense anterior compartment with blisters formation and rapid expansion of hematoma at the cubital fossa away from the fracture site. Both radial and brachial pulses were absent and confirmed with the absence of a doppler signal over the brachial and radial artery and CT angiography of the left upper limb showed there was a vascular injury of the brachial artery. Fasciotomy of the left upper limb and revascularization of the left brachial artery was done. Intraoperative findings showed a tight anterior compartment with muscle bulging upon compartment release with a complete cut of the left distal brachial artery. The primary end-to-end vascular anastomosis was done and distal circulation was restored. The distal end radius fracture was treated conservatively. The patient underwent split skin grafting of the left forearm after 6 weeks post-injury and went home well. It is critical to recognize a concomitant vascular injury in fracture-related ACS as the clinical feature may overlap. Failure in detection of concomitant vascular injury may lead to emergency fasciotomy without vascular exploration and repair.

as reported in: Rasid MF, Ahmad A, Baharuddin KA, Salim AA, Savarirajo JC, Abdullah MS. Med J Malaysia. 2021 07:76(4):603-605.