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Robert J. Spinner, John L. D. Atkinson, Doris E. Wenger and Michael J. Stuart

✓ This 41-year-old man presented with a 2-year history of symptoms and signs of sciatic nerve compression. Imaging studies revealed a large ossified fragment within the biceps muscle of the thigh abutting the sciatic nerve at the level of the lesser trochanter. The bony fragment resulted from an unrecognized apophyseal avulsion fracture of the ischial tuberosity, which the patient had sustained while sprinting 27 years earlier.

External neurolysis of the sciatic nerve and excision of the mass led to a successful outcome.

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Robert J. Spinner, Shawn W. O'Driscoll, Jesse B. Jupiter and Richard D. Goldner

Object. Failed surgical treatment for ulnar neuropathy or neuritis due to dislocation of the ulnar nerve presents diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. The authors of this paper will establish unrecognized dislocation (snapping) of the medial portion of the triceps as a preventable cause of failed ulnar nerve transposition.

Methods. Fifteen patients had persistent, painful snapping at the medial elbow after ulnar nerve transposition, which had been performed for documented ulnar nerve dislocation with or without ulnar neuropathy. The snapping was caused by a previously unrecognized dislocation of the medial portion of triceps over the medial epicondyle. Seven of the 15 patients also had persistent ulnar nerve symptoms. The correct diagnosis of snapping triceps was delayed for an average of 22 months after the initial ulnar nerve transposition. An additional surgical procedure was performed in nine of the 15 cases and, in part, consisted of lateral transposition or excision of the offending snapping medial portion of the triceps. Of the four patients in this group who had persistent neurological symptoms, submuscular transposition was performed in the two with more severe symptoms and treatment of the triceps alone was performed in the two with milder neurological symptoms. Excellent results were achieved in all surgically treated patients. Six patients declined additional surgery and experienced persistent snapping and/or ulnar nerve symptoms.

Conclusions. Failure to recognize that dislocation of both the medial portion of the triceps and the ulnar nerve can exist concurrently may result in persistent snapping, elbow pain, and even ulnar nerve symptoms after a technically successful ulnar nerve transposition.

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Robert J. Spinner, John L. D. Atkinson, C. Michel Harper Jr. and Doris E. Wenger

✓ Different theories have evolved to explain the pathogenesis and the cell of origin of intraneural ganglion cysts. Reportedly only three cases of intraneural ganglion of the tibial nerve have been located within the popliteal fossa, and all of these were thought to arise within the nerve. The authors report a case of a recurrent tibial intraneural ganglion in which a connection to the proximal tibiofibular joint was demonstrated on magnetic resonance (MR) images and at surgery. Surgical ligation of the articular branch and evacuation of the cyst led to symptomatic relief, and an MR image obtained 1 year after surgery documented no recurrence. This case reinforces the fact that surgeons need to consider and search for an articular connection in all cases of intraneural ganglia, especially in those that have recurred.

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Robert J. Spinner, Jay U. Howington and David G. Kline

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Robert J. Spinner, Robert L. Tiel and David G. Kline

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Robert J. Spinner, Najeeb M. Thomas and David G. Kline

✓ Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is difficult and its precise definition is highly controversial. In this article, the authors present the case of a patient who had clinical features suggestive of piriformis syndrome. During surgery the patient was found to have a rare variation in anatomical structures, in which the peroneal nerve was displaced by the piriformis muscle. Surgical decompression did not alleviate the patient's symptoms.

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Cormac O. Maher, Robert J. Spinner, Caterina Giannini, Bernd W. Scheithauer and Brian A. Crum

✓ The authors report the findings of a neuromuscular choristoma of the sciatic nerve in an otherwise healthy 18-year-old man who presented with sensorimotor symptoms and deformities of the right leg and foot. Only a few cases of this rare tumor, also known as “neuromuscular hamartoma” or “benign triton tumor,” have been reported in the surgical literature. The authors discuss the clinical presentation, radiological findings, pathological diagnosis, and surgical rationale for this case and review the associated literature.

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Robert J. Spinner, John L. D. Atkinson and Robert L. Tiel

Object. Based on a large multicenter experience and a review of the literature, the authors propose a unifying theory to explain an articular origin of peroneal intraneural ganglia. They believe that this unifying theory explains certain intriguing, but poorly understood findings in the literature, including the proximity of the cyst to the joint, the unusual preferential deep peroneal nerve (DPN) deficit, the absence of a pure superficial peroneal nerve (SPN) involvement, the finding of a pedicle in 40% of cases, and the high (10–20%) recurrence rate.

Methods. The authors believe that peroneal intraneural lesions are derived from the superior tibiofibular joint and communicate from it via a one-way valve. Given access to the articular branch, the cyst typically dissects proximally by the path of least resistance within the epineurium and up the DPN and the DPN component of the common peroneal nerve (CPN) before compressing nearby SPN fascicles. The authors present objective evidence based on anatomical, clinical, imaging, operative, and histological data that support this unifying theory.

Conclusions. The predictable clinical presentation, electrical studies, imaging characteristics, operative observations, and histological findings regarding peroneal intraneural ganglia can be understood in terms of their origin from the superior tibiofibular joint, the anatomy of the articular branch, and the internal topography of the peroneal nerve that the cyst invades. Understanding the controversial pathogenesis of these cysts will enable surgeons to perform operations based on the pathoanatomy of the articular branch of the CPN and the superior tibiofibular joint, which will ultimately improve clinical results.

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Robert J. Spinner, John L. D. Atkinson, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Michael G. Rock, Rolfe Birch, Thomas A. Kim, Michel Kliot, David G. Kline and Robert L. Tiel

Object. The peroneal nerve is the most common site of intraneural ganglia. The neurological deficit associated with these cysts is often severe and the operation to eradicate them is difficult. The aims of this multicenter study were to collate the authors' experience with a relatively rare lesion and to improve clinical outcomes by better understanding its controversial pathogenesis.

Methods. Part I of this paper offers a description of 24 patients with peroneal intraneural ganglia who were treated by surgeons aware of the importance of the peroneal nerve's articular branch. Part II offers a description of three more patients who were seen after earlier operations in which the ganglion was excised, but the articular branch was not identified (all reportedly gross-total resections). Twenty-six of the 27 patients presented with clinical, electrophysiological, and imaging evidence of a common peroneal nerve (CPN) lesion, predominantly affecting the deep peroneal nerve (DPN) division, and one patient presented with a painful mass of the CPN that was not accompanied by a neurological deficit.

In all 24 patients in Part I there was magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evidence of a connection between the cyst and the superior tibiofibular joint, including one patient in whom high-resolution (3-tesla) MR neurography demonstrated the pathological articular branch itself. At the operation, the communication proved to extend through the articular branch of the CPN in all cases. The operation consisted of drainage of the cyst and ligation of the articular branch. At a minimum follow-up period of 1 year, these patients experienced significant improvements in their neuropathic pain, but only mild improvements in their functional deficits. In none of the 24 patients was there evidence of an intraneural recurrence. In three patients, however, extraneural ganglia developed: two patients with symptoms subsequently underwent resection of the superior tibiofibular joint without further recurrence and one patient with no symptoms was followed clinically after the recurrence was detected incidentally on 1-year postoperative imaging. As predicted, in Part II all three patients in whom the articular branch had not been ligated experienced early intraneural recurrence; both postoperative MR images and original studies, which were retrospectively examined, demonstrated a connection with the superior tibiofibular joint.

Conclusions. The clinical presentation, electrical studies, imaging characteristics, and operative observations regarding peroneal intraneural ganglia are predictable. Treatment must address the underlying pathoanatomy and should include decompression of the cyst and ligation of the articular branch of the nerve. To avoid extraneural recurrence, resection of the superior tibiofibular joint may also be necessary, but indications for this additional procedure need to be defined. These recommendations are based on the authors' belief that intraneural peroneal ganglia arise from the superior tibiofibular joint and are connected to it by the articular branch.

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Robert J. Spinner, Alexander Y. Shin and Allen T. Bishop