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.
Infections of the spine are particularly challenging to orthopaedists because they often present emergently, can be difficult to diagnose precisely, and can have catastrophic or fatal outcomes if not treated effectively.The September 23, 2015 “Case Connections” from JBJS Case Connector discusses five cases of rare but serious spinal infections.
The “Case Connections” springboards from a September 9, 2015 JBJS Case Connector case report by Rosinsky et al. that describes a sixty-five-year-old man who presented with fever and intractable lumbar pain that radiated to his right leg. In this case, a methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) infection had formed a large lobulated epidural abscess at L4-S1, with paraspinal muscle and intradural extension. One year after an L3-S1 laminectomy and two follow-up surgeries to treat hematomas and repair dural perforations, the patient was neurologically intact and walking independently.
The Rosinsky et al. case and the three other relevant “connections” from the JBJS Case Connector archive emphasize that prompt, definitive diagnosis and treatment of spinal infections–and enlisting the expertise of infectious-disease specialists–can lead to positive outcomes, while delay and clinical confusion can end catastrophically or fatally.