Systematic Review of Innovative Diagnostic Tests for Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome

Ewan D. Ritchie, Sanne Vogels*, Thijs T.C.F. Van Dongen, Boudewijn L.S.Borger Van Der Burg, Marc R.M. Scheltinga, Wes O. Zimmermann, Rigo Hoencamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The diagnosis chronic exertional compartment syndrome is traditionally linked to elevated intracompartmental pressures, although uncertainty regarding this diagnostic instrument is increasing. The aim of current review was to evaluate literature for alternative diagnostic tests. A search in line with PRISMA criteria was conducted. Studies evaluating diagnostic tests for chronic exertional compartment syndrome other than intracompartmental pressure measurements were included. Bias and quality of studies were evaluated using the Oxford Levels of Evidence and the QUADAS-2 instrument. A total of 28 studies met study criteria (MRI n=8, SPECT n=6, NIRS n=4, MRI and NIRS together n=1, miscellaneous modalities n=9). Promising results were reported for MRI (n=4), NIRS (n=4) and SPECT (n=3). These imaging techniques rely on detecting changes of signal intensity in manually selected regions of interest in the muscle compartments of the leg. Yet, diagnostic tools and protocols were diverse. Moreover, five studies explored alternative modalities serving as an adjunct, rather than replacing pressure measurements. Future research is warranted as clinical and methodological heterogeneity were present and high quality validation studies were absent. Further optimization of specific key criteria based on a patient's history, physical examination and symptom provocation may potentially render intracompartmental pressure measurement redundant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

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