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A Review of Pelvic Compartment Syndrome

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A Review of Pelvic Compartment Syndrome

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I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. The pelvis is a large space, particularly in females, that houses the genitourinary system and the uterus which expands during pregnancy. Because of its size and organ involvement, it is a critical part of the body that can have serious consequences if injured. One complication, called pelvic compartment syndrome, can lead to significant organ damage that could impact patients for the rest of their life.

What is Pelvic Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is the term used to describe what happens when nerves or blood vessels are trapped in a compartment. Swelling in the walls of the compartment is typically the cause of this compartment syndrome, which can choke off the signals through the nerves and the flow of blood through the blood vessels. This leads to organ dysfunction at the other end of these nerves and blood vessels. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common form of compartment syndrome. In this compartment syndrome, the median nerve is trapped and compressed by the carpal tunnel. This leads to the numbness and tingling and so many people are familiar with. In pelvic compartment syndrome, the cause of compartment syndrome is typically a hematoma that forms in the retroperitoneal space. This means that blood is bleeding into the pelvic space internally, causing the pelvic compartment to swell and compressing the organs inside. In the medical literature, this is a rare injury that few patients have been reported to experience; however, the ones that have suffered this injury have had devastating consequences. Therefore, a team of researchers sought to peruse the literature and figure out what information existed to try and standardize the treatment protocol and improve outcomes for patients who have had this injury.

The Causes of Pelvic Compartment Syndrome

The research team looked through the literature and tried to figure out what led to these patients developing this form of compartment syndrome. They found that most patients had developed pelvic compartment syndrome following a traumatic injury of sorts. Most patients had suffered a bone fracture, specifically a pelvic fracture, that led to the internal bleeding that causes compartment syndrome. There were also a handful of other causes that did not involve trauma. These included alcohol abuse, morbid obesity, a prior surgical procedure in the pelvis, and anticoagulant misuse. Among the traumatic causes, the most common mechanism of injury was a motor vehicle accident, such as an auto accident. Other causes included pelvic compartment syndrome due to crush syndrome. This is a syndrome that develops from extreme pressure applied by an external cause. The most common cause is someone who has been crushed under a collapsed building. Pelvic compartment syndrome can also develop from fall injuries from a great height.

What Kind of Complications Develop from Pelvic Compartment Syndrome?

There are several complications that patients should be aware of when it comes to compartment syndrome. The researchers looked through the literature and quantified the different complications. One of the most common complications was an infection in this region. If a bone has been broken and protrudes through the skin, this increases the opportunity for an infection to set in. Almost every patient is going to experience extreme pain both from the traumatic injury and from the damage that compartment syndrome can do to nerves. Because compartment syndrome leads to the compression of blood flow, it deprives the organs of nutrients. This leads to muscle atrophy because the muscles do not receive enough blood to remain viable. Most patients are also going to experience issues with motor and sensory function. This comes from the inability of the nerves to conduct signals in an appropriate manner. This leads to nerve dysfunction and loss of motor and sensory function. Finally, massive tissue death, specifically muscles, leads to an outpouring of creatinine into the bloodstream. This rising creatinine level is toxic to the kidneys, leading to renal failure. Therefore, kidney dysfunction is a common complication of pelvic compartment syndrome.

The Treatment of Pelvic Compartment Syndrome

All cases of pelvic compartment syndrome require operative intervention to fix the pressure issue. The type of procedure performed is called a fasciotomy. This means that the tissue that is entrapping the pelvic compartment within the pressure is cut and released. This releases the pressure and allows proper function of nerves and blood vessels to resume. In addition, the surgeon is going to remove the hematoma during this procedure that led to the pressure increase in the first place. Sometimes, the blood vessels will start to bleed. The surgeon will also ligate the blood vessels to stop this internal bleeding. Finally, severe cases could require the removal of the uterus, called a hysterectomy, if the tissue is no longer viable. This procedure is used to release the buildup of pressure that led to the compartment syndrome which should restore proper function of the nerves and blood vessels in the region. If you have suffered a traumatic injury in an accident due to the negligence of someone else, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Sacramento to move forward with recovering compensation for your damages.


Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento, Ed Smith


Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, an experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento. Has a traumatic injury happened to you as a result of the careless actions of another person? If so, please reach out to me for free, friendly advice anytime at 916.921.6400.

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Attribution of top image: used with permission under a 3.0 version of Creative Commons Share-Alike license from Wikimedia Commons.

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