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Risk of Sciatic Nerve Traction Injury During Hip Arthroscopy—Is It the Amount or Duration?: An Intraoperative Nerve Monitoring Study

Telleria, Jessica J.M. MD; Safran, Marc R. MD; Gardi, John N. PhD, D.ABNM, F.ASNM; Harris, Alex H.S. PhD; Glick, James M. MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: 21 November 2012 - Volume 94 - Issue 22 - p 2025–2032
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01597
Scientific Articles
Supplementary Content

Background: Using intraoperative nerve monitoring we prospectively studied the prevalence, pattern, and predisposing factors for sciatic nerve traction injury during hip arthroscopy.

Methods: The transcranial motor (tcMEP) and/or somatosensory (SSEP) evoked potentials of seventy-six patients undergoing hip arthroscopy in the lateral position were recorded. Changes in the posterior tibial and common peroneal nerves were evaluated to assess the effects of the amount and duration of traction on nerve function. Sixteen subjects were excluded because of incomplete data. Nerve dysfunction was defined as a 50% reduction in the amplitude of SSEPs or tcMEPs or a 10% increase in the latency of the SSEPs; nerve injury was defined as a clinically apparent sensory or motor deficit. Traction time and weight were continuously monitored with use of a custom foot-plate tensiometer.

Results: Of sixty patients (thirty-one female and twenty-nine male, with a mean age of thirty-seven years [range, sixteen to sixty-one years]), thirty-five (58%) had intraoperative nerve dysfunction and four (7%) sustained a clinical nerve injury. The average maximum traction weight (and standard deviation) for patients who did and those who did not have nerve dysfunction or injury was 38.1 ± 7.8 kg (range, 22.7 to 56.7 kg) and 32.9 ± 7.9 kg (range, 22.7 to 45.4 kg), respectively. The odds of a nerve event increased 4% with every 0.45-kg (1-lb) increase in the traction amount (age/sex-adjusted; p = 0.043; odds ratio, 1.04; 95% confidence interval, 1.01 to 1.08). The average total traction time for patients who did and those who did not have nerve dysfunction was 95.9 ± 41.9 minutes (range, forty-two to 240 minutes) and 82.3 ± 35.4 minutes (range, thirty-eight to 160 minutes), respectively, and an increase in traction time did not increase the odds of a nerve event (p = 0.201). Age and sex were not significant risk factors.

Conclusions: The prevalence of nerve changes seen with monitoring of SSEPs and tcMEPs is greater than what is clinically identified. The maximum traction weight, not the total traction time, is the greatest risk factor for sciatic nerve dysfunction during hip arthroscopy. This study did not identify a discrete threshold of traction weight or traction time that increased the odds of nerve dysfunction.

Clinical Relevance: Surgeons should attempt to minimize traction weight and time during hip arthroscopy.

1Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of Washington, 1959 N.E. Pacific Street, Seattle, WA 98102. E-mail address:

2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University, 450 Broadway, M/C 6342, Redwood City, CA 94063

3California Neuromonitoring Services, Inc., 199 Knockash Hill, San Francisco, CA 94127

42705 Ralston Avenue, Hillsborough, CA 94115

Copyright 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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