Neuropathic pain is rare in children, and few reports provide adequate guidelines for treatment. The authors describe the successful treatment of tardy neuropathic pain via macrovascular decompression in a 15-year-old boy who presented with progressive pain 11 years following trauma to the upper extremity that had required surgical repair of the brachial artery. Examination revealed mild chronic median and ulnar motor neuropathy as well as recent progressive lancinating pain and a Tinel sign at the prior scar. A soft tissue mass in the neurovascular bundle at the site of previous injury was noted on MRI. Surgical exploration demonstrated an altered anatomical relationship of the previously repaired brachial artery and the median nerve, resulting in pulsatile compression of the median nerve by the brachial artery. Neurolysis and decompression of the median nerve with physical separation from the brachial artery resulted in immediate pain relief.
This is the first report of macrovascular decompression of a major peripheral nerve with complete symptom resolution. Noninvasive imaging together with a thorough history and physical examination can support identification of this potential etiology of peripheral neuralgic pain. Recognition and treatment of this uncommon problem may yield improved outcomes for children with neuropathic pain.