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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2009 September;62(3):325-33

language: English, Italian

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the leg in young athletes: authors’ experience

Bottiglia Amici-Grossi P. F. 1, Ferrua P. 1, Ometti M. 1, Mondini A. 1, Di Luca G. 2

1 I Division. Sports Trauma Research Center – Gaetano Pini Orthopedic Institute, Milan, Italy
2 Vascular Surgery Division, Gaetano Pini Orthopedic Institute, Milan, Italy


Objective. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is a well defined pathological entity presenting marked differences with other causes of chronic leg pain in athletes. Our study’s objective is to validate direct intracompartmental pressure measurement as a unique and irreplaceable diagnostic instrument and to analyse results after surgical therapy with Fasciotomy according to Rorabeck.
Methods. We performed direct intracompartmental pressure measurement in 15 athletes ( mean age 25.5; min age 18 max 32) using a Slit Catheter System under echo-Doppler control.
Results. We found 13 athletes positive for anterior compartment, according to modified Pedowitz criteria. After failure of conservative therapy lasting at least 3 months, fasciotomy was performed on 13 patients by the same surgeon (PFB). Results were excellent in 53.8% of patients with return to the same level of the sport practised before CECS diagnosis, good in 30.7% of patients with return to a lesser level and poor in 15.3% of patients with abandonment of sporting activity.
Discussion. We think that establishing valid diagnostic and therapeutic protocols would lead to a quicker diagnosis that should permit an earlier and more appropriate therapy with the aim of obviating the disadvantages of delayed treatment.
Conclusion. This protocol permits a quicker return to sport at the same level as that practised before illness.

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