Intraneural ganglion cysts are rare and benign mucinous lesions that affect peripheral nerves, most frequently the common peroneal nerve (CPN). The precise pathophysiological mechanisms of intraneural ganglion cyst development remain unclear. A well-established theory suggests the spread of mucinous fluid along the articular branch of the peroneal nerve as the underlying mechanism. Clinical outcome following decompression of intraneural ganglion cysts has been demonstrated to be excellent. The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between clinical outcome and ultrasound-detected morphological nerve features following decompression of intraneural ganglion cysts of the CPN.
Data were retrospectively analyzed from 20 patients who underwent common peroneal nerve ganglion cyst decompression surgery at the Universität Ulm/Günzburg Neurosurgery Department between October 2003 and October 2017. Postoperative clinical outcome was evaluated by assessment of the muscular strength of the anterior tibial muscle, the extensor hallucis longus muscle, and the peroneus muscle according to the Medical Research Council grading system. Hypesthesia was measured by sensation testing. In all patients, postoperative morphological assessment of the peroneal nerve was conducted between October 2016 and October 2017 using the iU22 Philips Medical ultrasound system at the last routine follow-up appointment. Finally, the correlations between morphological changes in nerve ultrasound and postoperative clinical outcomes were evaluated.
During the postoperative ultrasound scan an intraneural hypoechogenic ring structure located at the medial side of the peroneal nerve was detected in 15 (75%) of 20 patients, 14 of whom demonstrated an improvement in motor function. A regular intraneural fasicular structure was identified in 3 patients (15%), who also reported recovery. In 1 patient, a recurrent cyst was detected, and 1 patient showed intraneural fibrosis for which recovery did not occur in the year following the procedure. Two patients (10%) developed neuropathic pain that could not be explained by nerve ultrasound findings.
The results of this study demonstrate significant recovery from preoperative weakness after decompression of intraneural ganglion cysts of the CPN. A favorable clinical outcome was highly correlated with an intraneural hypoechogenic ring-shaped structure on the medial side of the CPN identified during a follow-up postoperative ultrasound scan. These study results indicate the potential benefit of ultrasound scanning as a prognostic tool following decompression procedures for intraneural ganglion cysts of the CPN.