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Fasciotomy is a surgical procedure that cuts away the fascia to relieve tension or pressure.


The fascia is thin connective tissue covering, or separating, the muscles and internal organs of the body. It varies in thickness, density, elasticity, and composition, and is different from ligaments and tendons.
The fascia can be injured either through constant strain or through trauma. Fasciitis is an inflammation of the fascia. The most common condition for which fasciotomy is performed is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of the foot that is sometimes called a heel spur or stone bruise.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by long periods on the feet, being overweight, and wearing shoes that do not support the foot well. Teachers, mail carriers, runners, and others who make heavy use of their feet are especially likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis results in moderate to disabling heel pain. If nine to twelve months of conservative treatment (reducing time on feet, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, arch supports) under the supervision of a doctor does not result in pain relief, a fasciotomy may be done. Fasciotomy removes a small portion of the fascia to relieve tension and pain. Connective tissue grows back into the cut space left by the cut, effectively lengthening the fascia.
When a fasciotomy is performed on other parts of the body, it is usually done to relieve pressure from a compression injury to a limb. This type of injury often occurs during contact sports. The blood vessels of the limb are damaged. They swell and leak, causing inflammation. Fluid builds up in the area contained by the fascia. A fasciotomy is done to relieve this pressure and prevent tissue death. Similar injury occurs in high voltage electrical burns where deep tissue damage occurs.


In the case of injury, fasciotomy is done on an emergency basis, and the outcome of the surgery depends largely on the general health of the patient. Plantar fasciotomies are appropriate for most people whose foot problems cannot be resolved in any other way.


Fasciotomy in the limbs is usually done by a surgeon under general or regional anesthesia. An incision is made in the skin, and a small area of fascia is removed where it will best relieve pressure. Then the incision is closed.
Plantar fasciotomy is an endoscopic (performed with the use of an endoscope) procedure. It is done by a foot specialist in a doctor's office or outpatient surgical clinic under local anesthesia and takes 20 minutes to one hour. The doctor makes two small incisions on either side of the heel. An endoscope is inserted in one to guide the doctor in where to cut. A tiny knife is inserted in the other. A portion of the fascia is cut from near the heel; then the incisions are closed.


Little preparation is done before a fasciotomy. When the fasciotomy is related to burn injuries, the fluid and electrolyte status of the patient are constantly monitored.


Aftercare depends on the reason for the fasciotomy. People who have endoscopic plantar fasciotomy can walk without pain almost immediately, return to wearing their regular shoes within three to five days, and return to normal activities within three weeks. Most will need to wear arch supports in their shoes.


In endoscopic plantar fasciotomy, the greatest risk is that the arch will drop slightly as a result of this surgery, causing other foot problems. Risks involved with other types of fasciotomy are those associated with the administration of anesthesia and the development of blood clots.

Normal results

Fasciotomy in the limbs reduces pressure, thus reducing tissue death. Endoscopic plantar fasciotomy has a success rate of 90-95%.

Key terms

Endoscope — A tube that contains a tiny camera and light, that is inserted in the body to allow a doctor to see inside without making a large incision.



"New Treatments for Heel Spur Syndrome." 〈http://www.footspecialist.com/heelspur.html〉.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


incision of a fascia.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Incision through a fascia; used in the treatment of certain disorders and injuries when marked swelling is present or anticipated, that could compromise blood flow; fasciotomy may be combined with embolectomy in the treatment of acute arterial embolism.
[fascio- + G. tomē, incision]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


Surgical incision through a fascia.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Orthopedics The incision through a fascial plane, usually to relieve neurovasular pressure in an underlying muscle compartment
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Incision through a fascia; used in the treatment of some vascular disorders and injuries when marked swelling is anticipated, which could compromise blood flow; fasciotomy may be combined with embolectomy in the treatment of acute arterial embolism.
[fascio- + G. tomē, incision]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Cutting fascia, usually to relieve damaging tension in a muscle compartment or prevent compression of arteries or nerves. Fasciotomy may become necessary if the development of muscles, as in an athlete, exceeds the space available to them in their fascial compartments.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
We will establish a clinical protocol to use adequate numbers of vials of antivenom and conduct adequate sonographic monitoring of wound edema or vessels compressed rather than performing fasciotomy for the patients bitten by P.
(*) Other types include burns with hot liquids, electricity, flame, chemicals, contact, or lightning strike, ([dagger]) Surgery treatment include fasciotomy, debridement, graft, flap, and extremity amputation
Percutaneous needle fasciotomy in dupuytren's disease.
As stated in the literature, a prophylactic fasciotomy is performed to prevent compartment syndrome (16).
Fasciotomy was not performed in 12 (10.5%) patients.
(9,16,17) If the symptoms do not improve, the treatment of choice is urgent complete fasciotomy of all affected compartments.
A fasciotomy is a procedure more commonly used to treat compartment syndrome, a condition which can result in limb loss.
In the case of this patient, although she presented with symptoms at an earlier than expected age, measured compartment pressures were normal, the pain was unilateral, and four-compartment fasciotomy failed to provide resolution of symptoms.
The patient had a butterfly fracture at the junction of the proximal and middle thirds of the left femur (already treated by ORIF using a long DCS plate), a left olecranon fracture (already treated by ORIF using tension band wiring), a right leg compartment syndrome (already treated by partial fasciotomy), a right calcaneal fracture (treated conservatively using a cast), a nondisplaced maxillary fracture, and a nondisplaced T12 vertebral body fracture.
Under the tentative diagnosis of fasciitis and myositis with associated compressive neuropathy, scheduled operation with debridement and fasciotomy were performed.
While there lacks evidence to support an association between compartment syndrome and the type of tibial tubercle avulsion fracture and due to the variability in the temporal presentation of compartment syndrome, it is paramount that careful evaluation of vascular integrity and a low threshold for fasciotomy be in place to prevent vascular compromise.
Classic treatment involves surgical decompression with an immediate fasciotomy considered essential to prevent disability and loss of the extremity [4].