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Peroneal nerve decompression: institutional review and meta-analysis to identify prognostic associations with favorable and unfavorable surgical outcomes

Christopher Wilson, Alan P. Yaacoub, Adewale Bakare, Na Bo, Abdul Aasar, and Nicholas M. Barbaro


A common cause of peroneal neuropathy is compression near the fibular head. Studies demonstrate excellent outcomes after decompression but include few cases (range 15–60 patients). Consequently, attempts to define predictors of good outcomes are limited. Here, the authors combine their institutional outcomes with those in the literature to identify predictors of good outcomes after peroneal nerve decompression.


The authors searched their institutional electronic medical records to identify all peroneal nerve decompressions performed in the period between December 1, 2012, and September 30, 2016, and created an IRB-approved database. They also conducted a MEDLINE and literature search to identify articles discussing surgical decompression. All data were combined by meta-analysis to identify the factors associated with a favorable outcome, which was defined as improvement in preoperative symptoms. Patients were analyzed in the aggregate and by presentation (pain, paresthesias, weakness, foot drop). The factors evaluated included age, sex, body mass index, diabetes, smoking status, previous knee or lumbar spine surgery, preoperative symptom duration, and etiology. A meta-analysis was completed for any factor evaluated in at least three data sets.


Twenty-one institutional cases had sufficient data for review. The follow-up among this group was long: median 29 months, range 12–52 months. On aggregate analysis of the data, only diabetes was significantly associated with unfavorable outcomes after decompression (p = 0.05). A trend toward worse outcomes was seen in smokers presenting with pain (p = 0.06). Outcomes were not affected by presentation.

An additional 115 cases in the literature had extractable data for meta-analysis, and other associations were seen. Preoperative symptom duration longer than 12 months was associated with unfavorable outcomes (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.08–0.65). Patients presenting with paresthesias or hypesthesia demonstrated a trend toward more unfavorable outcomes when operated on more than 6 months after symptom onset (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.13–1.06). Even after the meta-analysis, outcomes did not vary with an advanced age (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.24–1.98) or with patient sex (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.42–3.06).


The authors provide their institutional data in combination with published data regarding outcomes after peroneal nerve decompression. Outcomes are typically favorable and generally unaffected by the type of symptoms preoperatively, especially if the patient is nondiabetic and preoperative symptom duration is less than 12 months. Patients with paresthesias may benefit from surgery within 6 months after onset. Smoking may adversely affect surgical outcomes. Finally, an advanced age does not adversely affect outcomes, and older patients should be considered for surgery.