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Compartment Syndrome in Children


Compartment syndrome is a condition that causes muscle and nerve damage. Swelling or bleeding increases pressure in and between muscles. This stops blood from flowing to the area. Compartment syndrome usually happens in an arm or leg. Symptoms start suddenly and get worse quickly. Without immediate treatment, damage may become severe and permanent


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

Blood tests:

Your child may need blood tests to give healthcare providers 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 medicine or liquids.


  • Diuretics help decrease swelling and edema (excess fluid). It is often called water pills. Your child may urinate more often when he or she takes this medicine.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until your child's pain is severe to ask for more medicine.


  • Compartment pressure measurement is used to check the pressure in the area where your child is having pain.
  • Doppler ultrasound checks how well blood flows in the injured area.
  • MRI pictures are used to check for injury to deeper tissues. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the injury show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has metal in or on his or her body.
  • Scintigraphy is used to check how blood flows through your child's arm or leg. Your child will be given a small amount of contrast liquid in an IV. Pictures are then taken of blood vessels, muscles, or bones.


  • Physical therapy can help your child recover. A physical therapist will teach your child exercises to help improve movement and strength. Physical therapy can also help decrease pain and loss of function.
  • Surgery may be needed to decrease pain, pressure, and swelling.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to get more oxygen into your child's body. It is done after surgery to decrease pressure. The oxygen is given under pressure to help it get into the tissues and blood. Your child may need to have this therapy more than once.


Your child may have permanent damage if treatment is delayed. He or she may have weakness or difficulty moving the arm or leg. Your child may need surgery to remove all or part of the arm or leg. Your child 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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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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.

Learn more about Compartment Syndrome in Children (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

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