, Volume 36, Issue 12, pp 1122-1125
Date: 25 Dec 2006

Compartment Syndrome of Bilateral Lower Extremities Following Laparoscopic Surgery of Rectal Cancer in Lithotomy Position: Report of a Case

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A 67-year-old man underwent laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer in the lithotomy position. After surgery he complained of bilateral lower limb pain, swollen legs, and sensory disturbance. The serum creatine kinase value was 46 662 U/l. Venography demonstrated compression from outside without any obstruction. The T2 image of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a massive swollen muscle and a partial high-intensity area in the bilateral lower limbs. The posterior compartment pressures of lower legs were high (gastrocnemius muscle: 30 mmHg [right] and 44 mmHg [left]). Compartment syndrome (superficial posterior compartment) was thus diagnosed. He underwent a fasciotomy using the single dorsal approach and the administration of a large amount of fluid. He recovered well without any motor or sensory deficits. Compartment syndrome is rare, occurring only once in every 3500 cases, but it is a severe complication of surgery in the lithotomy position. Several risk factors have been pointed out: including prolonged operation, hardness of the operating table, obesity, dehydration, and hypothermia. To prevent compartment syndrome, appropriate positioning during surgery is therefore essential. To make a timely diagnosis and identify the precise location of muscle edema, the T2 image of MRI is useful.