Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 272–279 | Cite as

Mechanical and biochemical analyses of tibial compartment fascia in chronic compartment syndrome

  • Christof Hurschler
  • Ray VanderbyJr.
  • Daniel A. Martinez
  • Arthur C. Vailas
  • William D. Turnipseed


Increases in compartment pressure associated with chronic compartment syndrome (CCS) may be due to changes in the mechanical properties and/or thickness of fascia (4,22). To explore this possibility, we compared the mechanical and biochemical characteristics (stiffness, thickness, time-dependent response, collagen content, and collagen crosslinking) of fascia from patients with symptomatic anterior compartment syndrome to fascia from adjacent collateral compartments. We tested 43 specimens harvested from 20 individuals during surgical fasciectomy. Properties of normal (lateral)-compartment (NC) and pathological (anterior)-compartment (PC) fascia were mechanically tested in the axial and transverse directions forming four groups. An external control group (EX) of six specimens of anterior and lateral-compartment fascia harvested from amputated legs was also included in the study. PC fascia was found to be thicker and structurally stiffer (elastic modulus times thickness) in the axial direction than was NC fascia (p≤0.05). No significant differences were found between NC and PC time-dependent response, although significant differences between percent relaxation in the pooled axial and transverse direction specimens were observed. No differences were found in the collagen content, as measured by hydroxyproline (Hyp) concentration, between NC and PC fascia. PC fascia was found to have less collagen crosslinking by hydroxylyslpyridinoline (HP) concentration. In conclusion, although this study does not elucidate etiological factors in CCS, the changes found in PC fascia suggest that fascial mechanical properties contribute to the pathology.


Chronic compartment syndrome Fascia Elasticity Viscoelasticity Collagen Collagen crosslinking 


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christof Hurschler
    • 1
  • Ray VanderbyJr.
    • 1
  • Daniel A. Martinez
    • 2
  • Arthur C. Vailas
    • 1
  • William D. Turnipseed
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryG5/361 Clinical Science CenterMadison
  2. 2.Department of KinesiologyUniversity of WisconsinMadison

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