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Tool to help nurses detect compartment syndrome

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Orthopaedic nurses have developed an early warning scoring tool to improve the detection of acute limb compartment syndrome (ALCS).

The tool is the result of a collaboration by the Royal College of Nursing’s Society of Orthopaedic and Trauma Nursing and the British Orthopaedic Association.

“This tool for the early diagnosis of compartment syndrome will help doctors and nurses monitor for it”

Alison Armstrong

Compartment syndrome is the result of increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can develop in any region of the body that has a muscle compartment with little or no capacity for tissue expansion, although the most frequently affected sites are the legs and forearms.

Patients at risk of ALCS include those with tibial or forearm fractures, including open fractures, and victims of high impact trauma and crush injuries.

The tool forms the final part of a three-year peripheral neurovascular project supported by the Princess Grace Hospital.

It has been piloted with registered nurses across the UK and is now freely available to all clinicians from the RCN website.

Sonya Clarke, chair of the Society of Orthopaedic and Trauma Nursing, said: “The tool is designed to increase the likelihood that pain can be accurately detected before acute limb compartment syndrome develops.”

Alison Armstrong, from the British Orthopaedic Association, added: “This tool, specifically tailored for the early diagnosis of compartment syndrome will help doctors and nurses monitor for it and diagnose it at an earlier stage preventing the debilitating consequences of late treatment.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • A useful tool both in trauma orthopaedics and the ED...

    By the way, your link returns a not found error on the RCN website...

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