Common Peroneal Nerve Injury – Surgical Treatment

Common Peroneal Nerve Injury/Common peroneal nerve often referred to as the common fibular nerve, is a major nerve that innervates the lower extremity. It is one of the two major branches off of the sciatic nerve and receives fibers from the posterior divisions of L4 through S2 nerve roots. The common peroneal nerve separates from the sciatic nerve in the distal posterior thigh proximal to the popliteal fossa. After branching off of the sciatic nerve, it continues down the thigh running posteroinferior to the biceps femoris muscle and crosses laterally to the head of the lateral gastrocnemius muscle through the posterior intermuscular septum. The nerve then curves around the fibular neck before dividing into two branches, the superficial peroneal nerve (SPN) and the deep peroneal nerve (DPN). The common peroneal nerve does not have any motor innervation before dividing; however, it provides sensory innervation to the lateral leg via the lateral sural nerve.

Causes of Common Peroneal Nerve Injury


  • Running, football playing and ballet dancing. They cause peroneal muscles hypertrophy that entraps the nerve while passing through the muscles
  • Tight boots and stocks


  • Accidental: Blunt trauma to the leg during playing, ankle sprains (stretch neuropathy, the trauma might pull on the nerve) and fibular fractures
  • Surgical: Fasciotomy for compartment syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome of the Ankle and Foot

Anesthesia for Surgical Procedures

  • Part of the 5 nerves block at the ankle to manage ankle fractures and dislocations
  • Surgical procedures involving the dorsum of the foot: Incision and drainage of an abscess, toenail repair, and foreign body removal

Contraindications of Common Peroneal Nerve Injury

  • Patient refusal
  • Allergy to the injectant
  • Local infection
  • Local Malignancies
  • Coagulopathy
  • Superficial peroneal neuropathy because of systemic illness as diabetes mellitus


  • Povidone-iodine solution or chlorhexidine.
  • Sterile towels and gauze
  • Sterile gloves
  • A gown is required for catheter placement in cases of the continuous block
  • In cases of an ultrasound-guided block, a high-frequency ultrasound probe with a sterile probe cover and gel are necessary
  • Control syringe to aspirate before injection of local anesthetic in the land-mark based technique.
  • Needles for drawing up the local anesthetic and  for injection
  • Local anesthetic with or without epinephrine and/or other additives, such as dexamethasone


Well-trained physicians in landmark-based and ultrasound-guided nerve blocks can perform the procedure (including anesthesiologists and physiatrists).


  • Explain to the patient the need to receive a local injection, steps, injectants, adverse events, and prognosis.
  • Get informed consent following the hospital protocol.
  • Good illumination
  • Good positioning for the patient; the patient usually lies supine. A lateral decubitus position allows better access in catheter block technique.
  • Good positioning for the operator to avoid position related neck or back pain
  • Good exposure of the leg
  • Sterilization
  • Preparation of the injectant: Local anesthetic alone or combined with epinephrine or steroids
  • In cases of an ultrasound-guided block, adjustment of the machine settings is mandatory for getting a clear image of the nerve.


Landmark-Guided Technique

High-Level Block

Inject 6 to 10 ml of the injectant to ensure satisfactory block at the site of the maximal tenderness which is 10 to 15 cm proximal to the lateral malleolus at the anterolateral aspect of the leg.

Low-Level Block

Inject 6 ml of the injectant to ensure satisfactory block just anterior to the lateral malleolus.

In both techniques, operators introduce the needle from inferior to superior targeting the long axis of the nerve or from lateral to the medial targeting the short axis of the nerve.

Ultrasound-Guided Technique

  • Place the probe transversely and scan the short axis of the nerve from its origin down to the lateral malleolus. The scanning will help recognition of the site of the entrapment, any anatomic variations and localize the accompanying small vein.
  • Target the nerve at the site of the entrapment according to the ultrasound scanning or the desired level of the anesthesia:
  • Between fibula and peroneus longus muscle
  • Within the peroneus longus muscle
  • Between peroneus brevis and extensor digitorum longus muscles
  • At the peroneal tunnel
  • Superficial to the lateral malleolus

The operator introduces the needle from the lateral to the medial using an “in-plane approach” to inject 3 to 5 ml of the injectate targeting the short axis of the nerve.

Ultrasound-Guided Catheter Technique

The operator places the linear transducer posterolaterally about 12 cm distal to the knee to visualize the nerve. Low amplitude peripheral nerve stimulation (0.5 mA [0.1 ms] stimulus) applied to reproduce the patient’s pain and insert the catheter under the ultrasound guidance through the “in-plane approach” to target the short axis of the nerve. The operator injects a bolus of 15 mL of the injectate (containing 0.25% bupivacaine with epinephrine 1:200,000 and clonidine 25 mcg) via the catheter.

Benefits of Ultrasound Guidance

  • Ultrasound guidance avoids collateral damage of the nearby vessels and extremely lowers risk of the procedure-related nerve injury.
  • It helps the accurate placement of the injectate around the target nerve leading to better pain control.
  • Ultrasound guidance needs smaller amounts of the local anesthetics to achieve the target pain control.


  • Allergy to the injectate
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Injury of the accompanying vein
  • Injury of the superficial peroneal nerve
  • Systemic toxicity of the local anesthetics:

    • Neurological: Metallic taste, auditory changes, circumoral numbness, blurred vision, agitation, and seizures.
    • Cardiovascular: hypotension, abnormal cardiac contractility, dysrhythmias, complete heart block, and cardiovascular collapse.


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