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Anatomy of the Sural Nerve in the Posterolateral Approach to the Ankle: A Cadaveric Study

Published:August 11, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1053/j.jfas.2022.08.001

      ABSTRACT

      Sural nerve injury may occur during the posterolateral approach to the ankle during fracture fixation. We aimed to map its location in a posterolateral approach in cadaveric specimens. A posterolateral approach was used in 28 cadaver legs with the incision made halfway between the medial border of the fibula and the lateral border of Achilles tendon, extending proximally from the tip of the lateral malleolus. The sural nerve was identified and the distance from the distal tip of the incision to where it crossed the incision proximally was measured. The mean distance was 3.4 ± 1.2 (range 0.5-7.0) cm. In 22 cases (78.5%), the distance from the lowest part of the incision to the inferior part of the nerve was between 2.7 and 4.5 cm. The nerve did not cross the incision in 2 cases. We have demonstrated that the sural nerve crossed the posterolateral incision between 2.7 and 4.5 cm proximal to the tip of the fibula in the majority of cases. However, there remains individual anatomical variation, and we would recommend that care should be taken to look for the nerve closer to the Achilles tendon proximally and nearer the fibula distally. We hope that this information can help surgeons plan their approach and minimize iatrogenic injury to the sural nerve.

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