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MR imaging of compartment syndrome of the lower leg: a case control study


The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of MR imaging for diagnosis and therapy management of compartment syndromes. In total, 15 patients (5 with an imminent compartment syndrome and 10 with manifest compartment syndrome) underwent MR imaging with a variety of pulse sequences including fat suppression, magnetization transfer imaging, and intravenous gadopentetate dimeglumine (Gd-DTPA) administration. Early and late follow-up MR images were obtained. Manifest compartment syndromes showed swollen compartments with loss of normal muscle architecture on T1-weighted spin-echo images. T2-weighted spin-echo and magnetization transfer imaging showed bright areas, which enhanced after Gd-DTPA. Early follow-up showed changes in enhancement patterns; late follow-up showed fibrosis and cystic and fatty degenerations of the affected compartments. MR imaging can help make the diagnosis of a manifest compartment syndrome in clinically ambiguous cases. It points out the affected compartments and allows the surgeon to selectively split the fascial spaces.

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I thank Johannes Heverhagen for helpful discussions and editing and review of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to M. B. Rominger.

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Rominger, M.B., Lukosch, C.J. & Bachmann, G.F. MR imaging of compartment syndrome of the lower leg: a case control study. Eur Radiol 14, 1432–1439 (2004).

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  • Lower extremity, MR imaging
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Magnetization transfer imaging
  • Fat suppression, MR imaging
  • Exertional compartment syndrome