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Compartment Syndrome In Children


Compartment syndrome is a condition where there is increased pressure in a confined part in your child's body due to swelling or bleeding.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


At first, your child may need to rest in bed. Caregivers may help him elevate his arm or leg at the level of his heart. Your child's caregiver will tell you when it is okay to get him out of bed. Call your child's caregiver before getting him up for the first time. If he ever feels weak or dizzy, have him sit or lie down right away.

Blood tests:

Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.


  • Antibiotics: This medicine helps fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Make sure your child takes them as directed.

  • Diuretics: These medicines will help decrease swelling and edema (excess fluid). It is often called water pills. He may urinate more often when he takes this medicine.

  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to decrease pain and swelling. He may need a doctor's order for this medicine. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his medicine.


  • Blood and urine tests: Your child may need blood or urine tests to check for damage to his muscles or kidneys.

  • Doppler ultrasound: This test checks blood flow in your child's muscles. Blood flow to your child's arm or leg may be decreased in compartment syndrome.

  • MRI scan: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's injury. He may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell your child's caregivers if he is allergic to iodine or shellfish. He may also be allergic to the dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell your child's caregivers if he has any metal in or on his body.

  • Scintigraphy: This test helps caregivers see how blood flows through your child's arm or leg. He is given a small amount of dye in an IV. Pictures are then taken of his blood vessels, muscles, or bones.

  • Compartment pressure measurement: This test uses a needle attached to a machine to check the pressure in the area your child is having pain.


  • Brace or crutches: Your child may need to use crutches or wear a brace to correct, support, and protect his arm or leg.

  • Rehabilitation: Your child may need to see a physical therapist to teach him special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and strength. Physical therapy can also help decrease pain and loss of function. An occupational therapist may help him find ways to do daily activities and care for himself.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to put more oxygen into your child's body. The oxygen is given under pressure so his blood and tissues can receive it faster. He may be put into a tube-like chamber called a hyperbaric or pressure chamber. Your child will be able to see you and his caregivers and talk with you through a speaker. He may need to have this therapy more than once.

  • Fasciotomy: This is a procedure where an incision is made into your child's injured arm or leg to decrease pain, pressure, and swelling.


Your child may bleed or get an infection after surgery. Your child may have permanent damage if treatment is delayed. He may have weakness or difficulty moving his arm or leg. Your child may need surgery to remove all or part of his arm or leg. He may develop heart problems or kidney damage as a result of compartment syndrome.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.