The sciatic nerve, particularly its peroneal division, is at risk for injury during total hip arthroplasty (THA), especially when a posterior approach is used. The majority of the morbidity results from the loss of peroneal nerve–innervated muscle function. Approximately one-third of patients recover spontaneously. The objectives of this study were to report the outcomes of distal decompression of the peroneal nerve at the fibular tunnel following sciatic nerve injury secondary to THA and to attempt to identify predictors of a positive surgical outcome.
A retrospective study of all patients who underwent peroneal decompression for the indication of sciatic nerve injury following THA at the Mayo Clinic or Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis was performed. Patients with less than 6 months of postoperative follow-up were excluded. The primary outcome was dorsiflexion strength at latest follow-up. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the ability of the independent variables to predict a good surgical outcome.
The total included cohort consisted of 37 patients. The median preoperative dorsiflexion grade at the time of peroneal decompression was 0. Dorsiflexion at latest follow-up was Medical Research Council (MRC) ≥ 3 for 24 (65%) patients. Dorsiflexion recovered to MRC ≥ 4− for 15 (41%) patients. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, motor unit potentials in the tibialis anterior (OR 19.84, 95% CI 2.44–364.05; p = 0.004) and in the peroneus longus (OR 8.68, 95% CI 1.05–135.53; p = 0.04) on preoperative electromyography were significant predictors of a good surgical outcome.
After performing peroneal nerve decompression at the fibular tunnel, 65% of the patients in this study recovered dorsiflexion strength of MRC ≥ 3 at latest follow-up, potentially representing a significant improvement over the natural history.