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Old 16-10-2016, 12:33   #1
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Injury Swelling of Limbs Can Be Dangerous

I learned about a medical syndrome, "Compartment Syndrome" while reading about an injury that happened to a sailor who dropped something on his foot.

NOTE! The initial injury did not break any bones or even break or bruise the skin.

But, a few days later the painful swelling and symptoms caused him to require medical evacuation from his boat (which he had to abandon). The sailor was evacuated to a hospital where emergency surgery was performed to reduce the swelling.

This post is simply to let other sailors know about this medical condition with some links to further information so you can be prepared if you suffer a similar injury and see similar symptoms of injury.

Here is a thread with information about the original injury which prompted some reading on the topic of "Compartment Syndrome." In this thread you will find an excerpt from the sailor's own account of his injury, the symptoms he experienced (acute severe pain, swelling, large blisters filled with blood and plasma), and his eventual rescue.

Abandoned Westsail 32 Free for Taking (Fiji, Pacific)

Here's a few links for others to read (worth reading):


ACUTE Compartment Syndrome:

"Acute compartment syndrome occurs after a traumatic injury such as a car crash. The trauma causes a severe high pressure in the compartment which results in insufficient blood supply to muscles and nerves. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency that requires surgery to correct. If untreated, the lack of blood supply leads to permanent muscle and nerve damage and can result in the loss of function of the limb.[1]"

"Because the fascia layer that defines the compartment does not stretch, a small amount of bleeding into the compartment, or swelling of the muscles within the compartment, can cause the pressure to rise greatly. Common causes of compartment syndrome include tibial or forearm fractures, ischemic reperfusion following injury, hemorrhage, vascular puncture, intravenous drug injection, casts, prolonged limb compression, crush injuries and eschars from burns."

"Failure to relieve the pressure can result in necrosis of tissue in that compartment, "

"If left untreated, acute compartment syndrome can lead to more severe conditions including rhabdomyolysis and kidney failure potentially leading to death."

"Until definitive fasciotomy can be performed, the extremity should be placed at the level of the heart. Hypotension should also be avoided, as this decreases perfusion pressure to the compartment. "

"compartment syndrome can be treated by a surgery known as a fasciotomy. Surgery is the most effective treatment for compartment syndrome. Incisions are made in the affected muscle compartments so that they will decompress. This decompression will relieve the pressure on the venules and lymphatic vessels, and will increase bloodflow throughout the muscle. Left untreated, chronic compartment syndrome can develop into the acute syndrome and lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage."

"PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien suffered a compartment syndrome and had to have his left arm amputated.[21] According to his blog, O'Brien was securing cases filled with camera gear on a cart as he wrapped up a reporting trip to Japan and the Philippines. One fell on his arm. The arm was sore and swollen the next day but worsened on the next, Feb. 14, 2014, and he sought medical care. At the hospital, as his pain increased and arm numbness set in, a doctor recommended an emergency procedure to relieve the pressure within the limb, O'Brien wrote. The doctor made a real-time call and amputated his arm just above the elbow."

This is the commonly used treatment (surgery) used to reduce the pressure from swelling.

The attached photo is from Wikipedia article, and the blisters match the description given by Bill Shaw of his large foot blisters (blood and plasma).
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Old 16-10-2016, 13:41   #2
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Re: Injury Swelling of Limbs Can Be Dangerous

Thanks for the post, Steady, nice to know what it looks like. Excruciatiingly painful, too.

Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, , East Coast of Australia
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