Objectives: To assess the risk of injury to the superficial peroneal nerve, saphenous nerve, and saphenous vein in percutaneous fixation of the distal fibula and tibia.
Methods: Ten adult cadaver lower extremities were instrumented with precontoured periarticular plates for the distal tibia and fibula. Plates were inserted percutaneously along the medial distal tibia and lateral fibula. Smooth wires were inserted percutaneously into each screw hole. Dissection of the superficial peroneal nerve, saphenous nerve, and saphenous vein was performed along their respective course. The position of the neurovascular structures relative to the smooth wires was recorded.
Results: The saphenous nerve and vein had a predictable course along the medial aspect of the ankle. Both structures were injured in every specimen. This occurred consistently at 2.0 to 4.7 cm from the tip of the medial malleolus. The superficial peroneal nerve demonstrated large variance in the exit point from the lateral compartment crural fascia, exiting at an average of 11.6 cm from the tip of the lateral malleolus. Injury occurred in a single specimen at 11.5 cm from this point.
Conclusions: The superficial peroneal nerve, saphenous nerve, and saphenous vein are at risk during percutaneous submuscular plating of the distal fibula and tibia. Careful dissection proximally for the fibula and distally for the tibia can minimize the risk of damage to these structures.