Most insults to the sciatic nerve arise from intervertebral disc conditions or spinal stenosis. However, beyond these common etiologies for sciatic-nerve problems are a host of other, rarer causes. This month’s “Case Connections” explores 4 such peculiar examples.
The springboard case report, from the October 12, 2016 edition of JBJS Case Connector, describes 3 instances of sciatica caused by nerve compression from a perineural cyst arising from a paralabral cyst. All 3 patients were successfully treated with arthroscopic decompression. Three additional JBJS Case Connector case reports summarized in the article focus on:
- A 70-year-old woman with a history of thromboembolism who experienced sciatic nerve palsy from an anticoagulant-induced hematoma
- A 31-year-old woman with sciatic endometriosis who was successfully treated by a team of gynecologists, orthopaedists, and microsurgeons
- A 66-year-old woman in whom sciatic nerve injury occurred after repeated attempts at closed reduction of a dislocated hip prosthesis
Orthopaedists evaluating patients with symptoms characteristic of sciatic-nerve pathology should recognize that these symptoms may arise from a variety of etiological pathways. These patients require a complete history-taking, a thorough physical exam, and an attempt to rule out all possible lumbar causes.
Propionibacterium acnes is a frequently isolated pathogen in postoperative shoulder infections, but where exactly does it come from? According to a study by Falconer et al. in the October 19, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, P. acnes derives from the subdermal edges of the surgical incision and spreads through contact with the surgeon’s gloves and surgical instruments.
The authors obtained specimens for microbiological analysis at five different sites from 40 patients undergoing primary shoulder arthroplasty. Thirty-three percent of the patients had at least one culture specimen positive for P. acnes, and the most common site of P. acnes growth was the subdermal layer, followed by forceps.
The authors observed no clinical postoperative infections during the follow-up of 6 to 18 months, although that is a relatively short investigation period for a pathogen that often causes late-onset indolent infections. The authors conclude that “it is likely that surgeon handling of the skin and subdermal layer contaminates the rest of the surgical field.” Although the study did not investigate preventive techniques, based on the findings the authors suggest the following possible prophylactic approaches:
- Minimizing handling of the subdermal layer
- Changing gloves after the dermis is cut
- Avoiding contact between implants and the subdermal layer
- Repeating use of antibacterial agents once the wound is opened
Injuries to the musculoskeletal system are among the most common wounds of war. Compared with extremity injuries in the civilian population, injuries sustained in combat tend to be due to high-energy explosions and are associated with a greater degree of contamination and a longer timeline for recovery and healing. Importantly, the sequelae of musculoskeletal injuries sustained during combat tend to lead to more long-term disability than those affecting other organ systems.
In this month’s Editor’s Choice article, Rivera et al. review the current literature on combat injuries of the lower extremity and suggest that explosions are the most common mechanism of injury encountered by deployed service members. While exposure to an explosion does not necessarily result in a specific limb injury, the explosion mechanism does contribute to more severe injuries. Moreover, among service members who sustain open fractures of the tibia, foot, and ankle, infection is a common complication and is associated with more severe soft-tissue injury. As a result, surgeons who are deployed in combat settings are now performing more fasciotomies for limbs that are at risk. However, the outcomes and complication rates associated with these procedures are not well established, and the causes of late amputations are not always clear.
As part of a comprehensive review of this topic, Rivera et al. pose 3 important clinical questions that are ideal for translational research investigation. First, they ask, “What is the best way to manage and transport patients who have severe open fractures in order to minimize infection?” Indeed, while negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT) appears to be a promising wound-care technique, additional study is needed in order to know how to best augment the standard of care for battlefield medicine. Second, “What is the best way to treat fasciotomy wounds and the late sequelae of the compartment syndrome?” In order to answer this question, a broader understanding of compartment syndrome detection and the indications for surgical treatment are needed. Finally, “What is the best way to select limbs for salvage and to optimize the reconstruction of injured tissues?” This question must explore not only the patient’s perspective but also the multitude of causes that lead to late amputation.
Thomas A. Einhorn, MD
Editor, JBJS Reviews
OrthoBuzz regularly brings you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
The classic 1981 JBJS article by B.F. Morrey et al. begs to be read carefully, in part because of the name of the lead author. More importantly, this study answers the question that arises with almost every patient with an elbow disorder: Is the achieved range of motion sufficient for activities of daily living? We can answer this question “yes” or “no” after reading this article, and in my own practice, I repeatedly refer to the information provided in it.
Dr. Morrey was an aerospace engineer who worked at NASA for two years before he attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch. After his residency at the Mayo Clinic and after achieving a master’s degree in biomechanics from the University of Minnesota, he joined the staff at Mayo in 1978.
In this article, which integrates Dr. Morrey’s engineering and medical disciplines, he applied a high-tech device of that period (the triaxial electrogoniometer) to answer simple but eternal questions such as what degree of elbow flexion is needed to eat or perform personal hygiene.
It is the nature of human beings to notice particular joint impairments only when they disturb activities of daily living. Patient-reported outcome scores assessing subtle disturbances have recently been published, but we learned from Dr. Morrey’s article that patients with elbow flexion less than 130° will probably be reminded of their elbow problem whenever they try to use a telephone. (With today’s small cellular phones the problem might be even more accentuated.)
There is not much that a contemporary reviewer would criticise if this study were to be submitted today. Yes, the graphics would be nicer, and there would be more than 12 references. Modern computer-aided tools and methods for motion analysis might be more precise (and produce a mass of partially redundant data), but the results would remain essentially the same.
In fact, the question of functional elbow range of motion was revisited in JBJS by Sardelli et al. exactly 30 years after Dr. Morrey’s study appeared. Using modern three-dimensional optical tracking technology, Sardelli et al. found only minimal differences compared to findings in the Morrey et al. study. Only a few contemporary tasks like working on a computer (greater pronation) or using a cellular phone (greater flexion) appeared to require slightly more range of motion than previously reported.
Finally, it is the succinct and pointed results that amaze me whenever I recall the information from Dr. Morrey’s study. All we need to remember are four numbers: 100, 30, 130, and 50. Therein we are reminded that the patient needs to achieve a 100° arc of motion for flexion /extension (from 30° to 130°) and forearm rotation (50° of pronation and 50° of supination).
The authors were able to omit the conclusion sentence we see so often these days: “Further studies are needed…” The question about the minimal range of elbow motion needed to accomplish activities of daily living has been convincingly answered in this article. All residents should read this JBJS classic early, certainly before they examine their first patient with an elbow disorder.
Bernhard Jost, M.D.
JBJS Deputy Editor
This month’s Image Quiz from the JBJS Journal of Orthopaedics for Physician Assistants(JOPA) presents the case of a teenage girl who dislocated her patella while playing volleyball. The quiz provides four postreduction images, two radiographs and two fat-suppressed MRI scans, and then readers are presented with two questions:
- What is the next best step in this patient’s treatment?
- Which concomitant condition does NOT cause an increased risk of patellar instability?
The JBJS Elite Reviewers Program publicly recognizes our best reviewers for their outstanding efforts. Reviewers who review 4 or more manuscripts per year, rarely decline an invitation to review a manuscript (responding within 48 hours), and complete highly graded reviews within 1 week are eligible for the program. Elite Reviewers receive the following benefits in recognition of their exemplary performance:
- No submission fees for papers of which the reviewer is the first author (for 12 months)
- Free CME credits for all reviews
- Free online access to all JBJS publications
- A letter to the reviewer’s department head from JBJS Editor-in-Chief, Marc Swiontkowski, MD, recognizing and commending his/her good work
- Name recognition on the JBJS Elite Reviewers Program Web page and on the masthead of The Journal
For JBJS Consultant Reviewer Guidelines, visit http://bit.ly/2cWvYvc.
To learn how you can be a better reviewer visit http://bit.ly/2cRt1hY.
Here is an updated list of JBJS Elite Reviewers:
Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, James Ninomiya, MD, MS, lead author of the September 21, 2016 Specialty Update on Hip Replacement, selected the five most clinically compelling findings from among the nearly 70 studies summarized in the Specialty Update.
–A meta-analysis found no differences in short- and medium-term implant survivorship among the following three bearing combinations used in THA patients younger than 65 years of age: ceramic on ceramic, ceramic on highly cross-linked polyethylene, and metal on highly cross-linked polyethylene.1
Insight into Aseptic Loosening
–Pathogen-associated molecular patterns (“endotoxins”) on particulate wear debris may be partially responsible for aseptic loosening. An in vitro/in vivo study found that macrophages that did not express the pathogen-associated molecular pattern receptor called TIRAP/Mal had significantly diminished secretion of inflammatory proteins. Patients with a genetic polymorphism suppressing that receptor exhibited decreased osteolysis during in vivo experiments. This suggests that some patients may be genetically more prone to aseptic loosening.
THA in Patients with RA
–A systematic review/meta-analysis of patients who were and were not taking a TNF-α inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis prior to hip replacement found that those taking the drug had an increased risk of perioperative infection, with an odds ratio of 2.47.2 These results suggest that in order to decrease the risk of perioperative infections, it may be prudent to discontinue these drugs in advance of proposed joint replacement surgery.
Delaying THA for Femoral Head Osteonecrosis
–A systematic review/meta-analysis of patients with femoral head osteonecrosis concluded that injection of autologous bone marrow aspirate containing mesenchymal stem cells during core decompression was superior by a factor of 5 to core decompression alone in preventing collapse of the femoral head and delaying conversion to THA.3 This information may lead to new treatment paradigms for osteonecrosis.
Preventing Post-THA Dislocations
–A systematic review/meta-analysis that included more than 1,000 patients who underwent THA with a posterior or anterolateral approach found similar dislocation rates among those who were and were not given post-procedure restrictions in motion or activity.4 This suggests that the use of traditional hip precautions may not be necessary, and in fact may impede the rate of recovery following joint replacement surgery.
- Wyles CC, Jimenez-Almonte JH, Murad MH, Norambuena-Morales GA, Cabanela ME, Sierra RJ, TrousdaleRT. There are no differences in short- to mid-term survivorship among total hip-bearing surface options: a network meta-analysis. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2015 Jun;473(6):2031-41. Epub 2014 Dec 17.
- Goodman SM, Menon I, Christos PJ, Smethurst R, Bykerk VP. Management of perioperative tumour necrosis factor α inhibitors in rheumatoid arthritis patients undergoing arthroplasty: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2016 Mar;55(3):573-82. Epub 2015 Oct 7.
- Papakostidis C, Tosounidis TH, Jones E, Giannoudis PV. The role of “cell therapy” in osteonecrosis of the femoral head. A systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis of 7 studies. Acta Orthop. 2016 Feb;87(1):72-8. Epub 2015 Jul 29.
- Van der Weegen W, Kornuijt A, Das D. Do lifestyle restrictions and precautions prevent dislocation after total hip arthroplasty? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. Clin Rehabil. 2016 Apr;30(4):329-39. Epub 2015 Mar 31.
The practice of orthopaedic surgery is moving fairly rapidly to the outpatient environment. Advances in less invasive surgical procedures, regional anesthesia, and postoperative pain management have provided the foundation for this transition. The migration to outpatient surgery centers enables surgeons to use surgical teams more focused on orthopaedic technology and practice parameters. The concern that arises in everyone’s mind, though, is the issue of safety.
In the October 19, 2016 issue of JBJS, Qin et al. analyzed the NSQIP database and found that the outpatient surgical treatment of patients with a closed ankle fracture and minimal comorbidities resulted in lower risk of pneumonia and no difference in surgical morbidity, reoperations, and readmissions when compared with inpatient surgery.
The NSQIP dataset is voluntary and, as with any database, confounding variables are unavoidable. But these authors used propensity score matching and Bonferroni correction to minimize selection bias and manage multiple comparisons.
The study excluded emergency cases, cases with preoperative sepsis, and cases of open ankle fracture, and I can still foresee that patients with more severe fracture patterns, soft tissue compromise, and unstable medical comorbidities would be better off treated as inpatients. Nevertheless, it is reassuring that this study found no differences in complication or readmission rates. These findings reinforce the movement of orthopaedic surgical practice to the outpatient setting, and in my experience that movement is wholly welcomed by patients and their families.
Marc Swiontkowski, MD
The incidence of primary total knee and hip arthroplasty is increasing steadily. While the success rates of these procedures are remarkable, failures do occur, and periprosthetic joint infection is the leading culprit in such failures. The standard treatment when deep infection strikes is a two-stage revision.
On Monday, November 14, 2016 at 8:00 PM EST, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) will host a complimentary webinar that examines prognostic factors affecting the success of two-stage revision arthroplasty for infected knees and hips.
- Tad M. Mabry, MD, coauthor of a matched cohort study in JBJS, will examine the impact of morbid obesity on the failure of two-stage revision TKA.
- JBJS author Antonia F. Chen, MD, will discuss results from a retrospective study that revealed an association between positive cultures at the time of knee/hip component reimplantation and the risk of subsequent treatment failure.
Moderated by JBJS Deputy Editor Charles R. Clark, MD, the webinar will include additional perspectives from two expert commentators—Daniel J. Berry, MD and Andrew A. Freiberg, MD. The last 15 minutes will be devoted to a live Q&A session, during which the audience can ask questions of all four panelists.
Seats are limited, so register now!
Relapse of clubfoot deformity has been attributed to non-adherence to post-corrective bracing recommendations. The October 5, 2016 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery contains a study by Sangiorgio, et al. in which wireless sensors measured the actual brace use in 44 patients aged 6 months to 4 years who were supposed to use a post-corrective foot abduction orthosis for an average of 12.6 hours per day. The authors compared the mean number of hours of daily brace use as measured by the sensors with the physician-recommended hours and with parent-reported hours of brace use.
Here’s what Sangiorgio et al. found:
–Median brace use recorded by the sensors was 62% of that recommended by the physician and 77% of that reported by parents.
–18% of the patients experienced relapse. The mean number of daily hours of brace use for those patients (5 hours a day) was significantly lower than the 8 hours per day for those who didn’t experience relapse.
While this study suggests that 8 hours or more of daily brace use may be helpful to prevent relapse, studies with larger cohorts will be needed to determine more definitive bracing minimums. Still, the authors say that “routine brace monitoring has the potential to accurately identify patients who are receiving an inadequate number of hours of brace use and facilitate more effective counseling of these families.”