OBJECTIVE: There are few large-volume studies of the repair of complete missile-caused peroneal nerve and peroneal division lesions. In this prospective study, the outcomes of such repairs are studied and the factors influencing the outcomes are analyzed.
METHODS: During a 3-year period, 157 patients with complete missile-caused lesions of the peroneal nerve or peroneal division were treated surgically in the Belgrade Military Medical Academy: 37 patients with high-level (above the middle of the thigh), 90 patients with intermediate-level (above the popliteal crease), and 30 patients with low-level repairs. After at least 4 years of follow-up, outcome was defined on the basis of motor recovery, neurophysiological recovery, and patient judgment of the quality of outcome (poor, insufficient, good, or excellent). Good and excellent outcomes were considered successful. The factors of repair level, defect length, manner of repair, preoperative interval, severity of tissue damage in the repair region, and patient age were studied for their effect on outcome.
RESULTS: A successful outcome was obtained in 10.8% of high-level repairs, 31.1% of intermediate-level repairs, and 56.7% of low-level repairs (P < 0.001). Nerve defect and preoperative interval were significantly shorter for patients with a successful outcome compared with those with an unsuccessful outcome (P< 0.001). Worsening of the outcome began with the nerve defect larger than 4 cm and preoperative interval greater than 3 months (P< 0.001). Severity of local tissue damage significantly influenced the outcome (P= 0.008). Repair level (P< 0.001), preoperative interval (P= 0.001), severity of local tissue damage (P= 0.011), and length of nerve defect (P= 0.011) were independent predictors for a successful outcome.
CONCLUSION: After peroneal nerve or peroneal division repairs, a successful outcome is most probable with low-level lesions repaired in the first 3 months after injury using grafts smaller than 4 cm. Conversely, high-level repairs delayed for more than 7 months after injury and using grafts larger than 8 cm are probably not worthwhile.