Identifying risk factors for missed compartment syndrome in patients with tibia shaft fractures: An analysis of the national trauma data bank

Kessiena Aya, Connor S. Johnson, Uchechukwu Emili, Daniel C. Jupiter, Ronald W. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Acute compartment syndrome (CS) is a common complication of tibia shaft fractures (TSFs), and occurs when the pressure inside a myofascial compartment rises and impairs tissue perfusion. If treatment is delayed due to a missed diagnosis, amputation or permanent loss of function can result. This study aims to determine the incidence, clinical associations, and risk factors for missed CS following surgical stabilization of tibia shaft fractures (TSFs) using data from the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). Methods: NTDB data files from 2007 to 2016 were accessed to collect information on patients undergoing surgical fixation of TSFs. Patients with an Injury Severity Score (ISS) > 15 or inferred Gustilo-Anderson IIIB/IIIC fractures were excluded to create a more homogenous sample of lower-grade TSFs. Compartment syndrome that was originally missed leading to late intervention was the main outcome under investigation. Bivariate tests were used to assess the relationships between missed CS and the preoperative variables. If a variable and a complication had an association with a P ≤ 0.2, it was included in a multivariate logistic regression model. Results: A total of 184,612 patients met our inclusion criteria, and 1,269 patients (0.76%) had a missed CS diagnosis. Bivariate analysis demonstrated that male gender had a significant positive association with a missed CS diagnosis, while older age had a significant negative association (odds ratio [OR] = 2.17, 0.99; P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that male gender was the most significant independent risk factor for a missed diagnosis of compartment syndrome (OR = 1.84, P < 0.00001), followed by alcoholism, penetrating trauma, and smoking (OR = 1.51, 1.46, 1.43; P < 0.02). The only significant protective factor was open fracture (OR = 0.70, P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Our research identified several significant risk factors for missed CS after TSF, as well as positive and negative associations. Male gender, age, and lifestyle choices such as alcohol use and smoking conferred increased risks. These variables may assist physicians in identifying at-risk patients who may benefit from increased monitoring, and potentially prevent the high morbidity associated with this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1621-1624
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Compartment syndrome
  • Missed compartment syndrome
  • National trauma data bank
  • Risk factors
  • Tibial diaphyseal fractures
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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