chapter  27
10 Pages

Volkmann’s contracture

ByRené Malek

It is interesting to see how a medical chapter becomes clearer once a better understanding of its pathogeny has been achieved. After having reported the first case of the syndrome that was to bear his name in 1869, R. Volkmann 1 gave the following definition in 1881: ‘contracture of the muscles of the anterior region of the forearm, associated with more or less extensive paralysis of the hand ’ . He had already introduced the way ischemia affects different tissues. However, this definition corresponded to the late stage of a disease, for which the physiopathology was not fully understood. Indeed the term ‘Volkmann ’ s disease ’ , often used in textbooks, clearly reflected the mystery with which this condition was viewed by surgeons until very recently.