BACKGROUND: Postamputation pain is a debilitating condition that affects almost 60% of transfemoral amputees. Recent appreciation for the contribution of peripheral nerve derangement to the development of postamputation pain has resulted in focus on the role of nerve reconstruction in preventing pain after amputation.
OBJECTIVE: To propose a method involving tibial and common peroneal nerve coaptation at the time of amputation, as a means to prevent residual limb pain and phantom sequelae resulting from neuroma formation.
METHODS: Between May 2014 and May 2015, 17 patients underwent transfemoral amputation and nerve management through either (1) common peroneal nerve-to- tibial nerve coaptation and collagen nerve wrapping or (2) traction neurectomy alone. Visual analog scores (VAS) for pain, analgesic requirements, neuroma formation, phantom pain/sensations, and ambulatory status were compared between cohorts.
RESULTS: Six patients underwent nerve coaptation/collagen nerve wrapping, whereas 11 underwent traction neurectomy. At 2 months, VAS scores were similar between cohorts (3 vs 3.82; P = .88); however, neuroma (0% vs 36.3%; P = .24) and phantom pain (0% and 54.5%; P = .03) were significantly lower after coaptation. After 6 months, VAS scores (0.75 vs 5.6; P = .02) as well as neuroma (0% vs 54.5%; P = .03) and phantom pain (0% vs 63.6%; P = .01) remained lower among patients who underwent coaptation. At follow-up, 67% of coaptation patients were ambulating with a prosthesis vs 9% of neurectomy patients (P = .01).
CONCLUSION: Preemptive coaptation and collagen nerve wrapping is associated with lower VAS pain scores, phantom symptoms, and neuroma formation, with higher ambulation rates after 6 months when compared with traction neurectomy alone.
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