Neurovascular assessment is an important skill for nurses working in the Emergency Department.

Patients who have sustained an injury such as a fracture or burns, for example, may be at risk of neurovascular compromise, or compartment syndrome. These conditions can lead to tissue necrosis, permanent loss of function or even death.

It is, therefore, crucial that nurses have a sound knowledge and understanding of the risks associated with neurovascular compromise, undertake regular neurovascular observations and respond appropriately if compromise is suspected.

Neurovascular assessment

Compartment Syndrome – The 5 Ps
Compartment syndrome can be identified through neurovascular assessment in patients following extreme trauma. It tests blood flow to the extremity, distal to the injury, and nerve function. Most neurovascular problems will appear in patients who have suffered a crush injury, or when a cast or splint has been used to stabilise a fracture.

Neurovascular assessment
A slide presentation.

Compartment Syndrome
Musculoskeletal compartment syndrome is a limb threatening condition resulting from increased pressure within a muscular compartment, which causes compression of the nerves, muscles and vessels within the compartment.

Diploma of Nursing Video
Neurovascular Assesment

Schreiber, M. L. (2016). Evidence-Based Practice. Neurovascular Assessment: An Essential Nursing Focus. MedSurg Nursing, 25(1), 55-57.

Walls, M. H. (2017). Compartment Syndrome: an Orthopedic Emergency. JEN: Journal of Emergency Nursing, 43(4), 303-307. doi:10.1016/j.jen.2016.11.004