We retrospectively reviewed the results of operative decompression for peroneal nerve palsy in thirty-one patients who had been managed between 1980 and 1990. All patients had been managed non-operatively for at least two months after they had initially been seen. Intraoperatively, we found epineurial fibrosis and bands of fibrous tissue constricting the peroneal nerve at the level of the fibular head and at the proximal origin of the peroneus longus muscle. At a mean of thirty-six months (range, twelve to seventy-two months) postoperatively, thirty (97 per cent) of the thirty-one patients reported subjective and functional improvement and were able to discontinue the use of the ankle-foot orthosis. In contrast, only three of nine patients who had been managed non-operatively reported subjective and functional improvement (p < 0.01). Peroneal nerve palsy does not always resolve spontaneously; if it is left untreated, the loss of dorsiflexion of the ankle and persistent paresthesias can result in severe functional disability. Therefore, if non-operative measures do not lead to improvement within two months, we believe that operative decompression should be considered.
†Division of Arthritis Surgery, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (M. A. M., F. C., M. W. H., and D. S. H.), and Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Neurological Surgery (A. L. D.), The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital, Professional Building, 5601 Loch Raven Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21239.
‡Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Buffalo General Hospital, 100 High Street, Buffalo, New York 14203.