Home E-Weekly May 20, 2014

Nerve Damage After Hip Surgery May Not Be Providers' Fault

Published: May 19, 2014

Nerve damage after hip surgery, traditionally blamed on anesthesia providers' or surgeons' actions, may in some cases be related to inflammatory neuropathy instead, a recent Mayo Clinics Proceedings article suggests.

In a retrospective study of patients who developed pain and weakness in limbs after hip surgery despite no documented or direct traction injury during surgery, researchers demonstrated inflammatory neuropathies in all patients, via nerve biopsy. Historically, such injuries have been attributed to mechanical factors, such as patient positioning or direct surgical damage to nerves.

Physicians should be aware of certain signs that suggest that damage in such patients may be related to an inflammatory issue, says Nathan Staff, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist, including neuropathy that develops over time; severe pain; neuropathy that progresses; and anatomical distribution that's differs from what's expected.

The ability to identify patients with inflammatory neuropathy, as opposed to those with mechanically caused damage, may allow for better and faster treatment, for example via immunotherapy, to ease pain and improve outcomes, says Dr. Staff.

Jim Burger

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