Meralgia paresthetica is caused by entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) and often presents with pain. Multiple treatment options targeting the LFCN can be pursued to treat the pain should conservative measures fail, with the most common options being injection, neurolysis, and neurectomy. However, their efficacy in causing pain relief and their clinical outcomes have yet to be directly compared. The aim of this study was to interrogate the contemporary literature and quantitatively define how these options compare.
The electronic databases Ovid Embase, PubMed, SCOPUS, and the Cochrane Library were interrogated from inception to May 2020 following the PRISMA guidelines. Candidate articles were screened against prespecified criteria. Outcome data were abstracted and pooled by random-effects meta-analysis of proportions.
There were 25 articles that satisfied all criteria, reporting outcomes for a total of 670 meralgia paresthetica patients, with 78 (12%) treated by injection, 496 (74%) by neurolysis, and 96 (14%) by neurectomy. The incidence of complete pain relief was 85% (95% CI 71%–96%) after neurectomy, 63% (95% CI 56%–71%) after neurolysis, and 22% (95% CI 13%–33%) after injection, which were all statistically different (p < 0.01). The incidence of revision procedures was 12% (95% CI 4%–22%) after neurolysis and 0% (95% CI 0%–2%) after neurectomy, which were significantly lower than 81% (95% CI 64%–94%) after injection (p < 0.01). The incidences of treatment complications were statistically comparable across all three treatments, ranging from 0% to 5% (p = 0.34).
There are multiple treatment options to target pain in meralgia paresthetica. The incidence of complete pain relief appears to be the greatest among the 3 interventions after neurectomy, accompanied by the lowest incidence of revision procedures. These findings should help inform patient preference and expectations. Greater exploration of the anatomical rationale for incomplete pain relief after surgical intervention will assist in optimizing further surgical treatment for meralgia paresthetica.