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Clin Anat. 2018 May;31(4):450-455. doi: 10.1002/ca.22997. Epub 2017 Nov 11.

The surgical anatomy of the sural nerve: An ultrasound study.

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International Evidence-Based Anatomy Working Group, Krakow, Poland.
Department of Anatomy, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland.
Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Cagliari, Sardinia.
Department of Anatomical Sciences, St. George's University, Grenada.


The aim of this study was (a) to examine the anatomy of the sural nerve (SN) in a sample of 30 patients and (b) to analyze the incidence of different origins of the SN, and the distance of the SN from planned arthroscopic portals. An ultrasound (USG) examination of the SN was performed bilaterally on thirty healthy patients with no history of surgery or trauma of the lower limb. The SNs were classified into six main types of pattern, with an additional category for new and unclassified types. Each of Types 1 and 3 had two subdivisions. The distances from the superior border of the calcaneal tuberosity to the three simulated arthroscopy portal sites (Z1, Z1.5, Z2) to the SN were measured. A total of 30 patients (n = 60 limbs) with an average age of 27 ± 7.5 years were examined and the SN was visualized in all cases. The most common origin was Type 3A, accounting for 30% of limbs. Type 2 was the second most common seen in 18.3%. The distances of the SN from arthroscopic portal placement sites above the lateral malleolus were 2.07 ± 0.39 cm at the Z1 portal, 2.15 ± 0.38 cm at Z1.5, and 2.28 ± 0.33 cm at Z2. The variability in the anatomy of the SN warrants the use of USG to locate it accurately, thus preventing iatrogenic injury when portals are placed for arthroscopy, improving proper administration of anesthesia, and helping to localize the nerve for graft harvesting. Clin. Anat. 31:450-455, 2018.


anatomical variations; anatomy; ankle arthroscopy; arthroscopy portal; portal placement; sural nerve; ultrasound

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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