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The estimated sensitivity and specificity of compartment pressure monitoring for acute compartment syndrome.

BACKGROUND: The aim of our study was to document the estimated sensitivity and specificity of continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring for the diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome.

METHODS: From our prospective trauma database, we identified all patients who had sustained a tibial diaphyseal fracture over a ten-year period. A retrospective analysis of 1184 patients was performed to record and analyze the documented use of continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring and the use of fasciotomy. A diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome was made if there was escape of muscles at fasciotomy and/or color change in the muscles or muscle necrosis intraoperatively. A diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome was considered incorrect if it was possible to close the fasciotomy wounds primarily at forty-eight hours. The absence of acute compartment syndrome was confirmed by the absence of neurological abnormality or contracture at the time of the latest follow-up.

RESULTS: Of 979 monitored patients identified, 850 fit the inclusion criteria with a mean age of thirty-eight years (range, twelve to ninety-four years), and 598 (70.4%) were male (p < 0.001). A total of 152 patients (17.9%) underwent fasciotomy for the treatment of acute compartment syndrome: 141 had acute compartment syndrome (true positives), six did not have it (false positives), and five underwent fasciotomy despite having a normal differential pressure reading, with subsequent operative findings consistent with acute compartment syndrome (false negatives). Of the 698 patients (82.1%) who did not undergo fasciotomy, 689 had no evidence of any late sequelae of acute compartment syndrome (true negatives) at a mean follow-up time of fifty-nine weeks. The estimated sensitivity of intracompartmental pressure monitoring for suspected acute compartment syndrome was 94%, with an estimated specificity of 98%, an estimated positive predictive value of 93%, and an estimated negative predictive value of 99%.

CONCLUSIONS: The estimated sensitivity and specificity of continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring for the diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome following tibial diaphyseal fracture are high; continuous intracompartmental pressure monitoring should be considered for patients at risk for acute compartment syndrome.

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