The incidence of peripheral nerve injury in extremity trauma

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 May;87(5):381-5. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31815e6370.


Objective: To examine the incidence of peripheral nerve injury within 90 days of a limb trauma diagnosis in patients who have presented to the hospital or outpatient clinic.

Design: This study is a retrospective, descriptive study that uses the 1998 MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database (The MEDSTAT Group) to track peripheral nerve injuries in extremity trauma. We selected our sample by using ICD9 codes for limb trauma during the first 9 mos of 1998. Nerve injuries within 90 days after limb trauma were the main outcome measure. Finally, we report how the rates of trauma and accompanying nerve injuries were contrasted by gender and age group, using univariate and bivariate statistics. All data analyses were conducted using Stata 9.0 statistical software.

Results: Out of 16 million insureds in the database, 220,593 (1.4%) were diagnosed with limb trauma. Eighty-three percent of the patients were less than 55 yrs old, and 50% were male. The total incidence of nerve injuries within 90 days of upper- or lower-limb trauma was 1.64%. The type of extremity trauma with the highest incidence of nerve injury within 90 days of the diagnosis was a crush injury at 1.9%. Approximately 50% of our sample was selected because of a dislocation, which had an associated nerve injury prevalence of 1.46%.

Conclusions: When looking at the population sampled, rates for peripheral nerve injury in people incurring limb trauma are low. Crush injuries seem to have the highest rate of associated nerve injury. Further studies are needed to observe outcomes for people with nerve damage after trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm Injuries / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crush Syndrome / complications*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Leg Injuries / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / complications*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trauma, Nervous System / epidemiology
  • Trauma, Nervous System / etiology*