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Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2010;44(1):48-53. doi: 10.3944/AOTT.2010.2172.

The results of surgical repair of sciatic nerve injuries.

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Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Istanbul University, Turkey.



The aim of this study was to evaluate surgical treatment and follow-up results of patients who presented to our department with sciatic nerve injuries.


The study included 13 patients (12 males, 1 female; mean age 23 years; range 11 to 35 years) who underwent surgical treatment for sciatic nerve injuries. The etiologies of sciatic nerve injuries were penetrating trauma in five patients, firearm injuries in four patients, and motor vehicle accidents in four patients. Injuries involved the knee level in five patients, and above-the-knee level in eight patients. Peroneal nerve involvement was seen in all the patients, and the tibial nerve was involved in 11 patients. Primary repair was performed in six patients, neurolysis in three patients, and nerve grafting in three patients. One patient underwent neurolysis for the peroneal portion, and nerve grafting for the tibial portion. Muscle strength and reflex changes were recorded at every stage of the treatment. Muscle strength was assessed according to the British Medical Research Council scale. The Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test was used for sensory evaluation. The mean follow-up period was 4 years (range 1 to 6 years).


In 11 patients with tibial nerve injuries, the soleus/gastrocnemius strength was measured as follows: M1 in one patient, M3 in four patients, M4 in four patients, and M5 in two patients. Plantar sensation was absent in four patients, while seven patients had at least adequate protective sensation. In 13 patients with a peroneal nerve injury, the strength of the anterior tibial muscle was measured as follows: M0 in three patients, M2 in three patients, M3 in one patient, M4 in three patients, and M5 in three patients. Of these, four patients had persistent insensitivity in the dorsum of the foot, while six patients had protective sensation, and three patients had normal sensation. Two patients with inadequate anterior tibial muscle strength following nerve repair underwent posterior tibial tendon transfer for restoration of foot dorsiflexion. The greatest functional improvement was obtained in cases in which neurolysis was performed; patients undergoing primary repair had better outcomes compared to those where nerve grafts were used. The results were better in thigh level injuries than those in the gluteal region.


Low expectations after sciatic nerve repair in the past are now being rapidly replaced by a more optimistic approach. Advances in microsurgery and use of treatment algorithms based on scientific research account for this significant improvement in outcomes after sciatic nerve surgery. Tendon transfers can enhance the success rate and be combined with nerve repair in selected cases.

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