Decompression of an experimental compartment syndrome in dogs with hyaluronidase

D. H. Gershuni, A. R. Hargens, R. L. Lieber, R. C. O'Hara, C. B. Johansson, W. H. Akeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The treatment of compartment syndromes in which elevation of intracompartmental pressure occurs is by surgical fasciotomy. This is a relatively simple procedure but may be associated with complications. This study aimed at developing an alternative method to decompress a compartment by use of the enzyme hyaluronidase. Autologous plasma was infused into the anterolateral leg compartments of six dogs to simulate compartment syndromes of 80 mmHg. Pressure decay after pressurization was recorded. The compartment pressures were then again raised to 80 mmHg by subfascial injections of 1500 units hyaluronidase in 2 ml saline injected into one compartment and 2 ml saline only into the control side. Pressure decay was again recorded. On the experimental side, a significantly faster decay rate occurred after hyaluronidase injection than after initial pressurization; 8.0 ± 1.3 (S.E.M.) versus 3.4 ± 0.4 (S.E.M.) mmHg/min (p < .01). Pressure decay after hyaluronidase injection was significantly faster than after the same volume injection on the control side, over both a four-minute period (8.0 ± 1.3 [S.E.M.] versus 4.1 ± 0.6 [S.E.M.] mmHg/min [p < .03]) and a 25-minute period (2.1 ± 0.3 [S.E.M.] versus 1.3 ± 0.1 [S.E.M.] mmHg/min [p < .03]). Hyaluronidase removes hyaluronic acid molecules from the leg compartment fascia and, by facilitating fluid flow from the compartment, causes decompression. Hyaluronidase may then have a place in the prophylaxis and treatment of compartment syndrome, thus avoiding anesthesia and surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-300
Number of pages6
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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