Surgical Management of Deep Gluteal Syndrome Causing Sciatic Nerve Entrapment: A Systematic Review

Arthroscopy. 2017 Dec;33(12):2263-2278.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2017.06.041. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


Purpose: To assess the causes, surgical indications, patient-reported clinical outcomes, and complications in patients with deep gluteal syndrome causing sciatic nerve entrapment.

Methods: Three databases (PubMed, Ovid [MEDLINE], and Embase) were searched by 2 reviewers independently from database inception until September 7, 2016. The inclusion criteria were studies reporting on both arthroscopic and open surgery and those with Level I to IV evidence. Systematic reviews, conference abstracts, book chapters, and technical reports with no outcome data were excluded. The methodologic quality of the studies was assessed with the MINORS (Methodological Index for Non-randomized Studies) tool.

Results: The search identified 1,539 studies, of which 28 (481 patients; mean age, 48 years) were included for assessment. Of the studies, 24 were graded as Level IV, 3 as Level III, and 1 as Level II. The most commonly identified causes were iatrogenic (30%), piriformis syndrome (26%), trauma (15%), and non-piriformis (hamstring, obturator internus) muscle pathology (14%). The decision to pursue surgical management was made based on clinical findings and diagnostic investigations alone in 50% of studies, whereas surgical release was attempted only after failed conservative management in the other 50%. Outcomes were positive, with an improvement in pain at final follow-up (mean, 23 months) reported in all 28 studies. The incidence of complications from these procedures was low: Fewer than 1% and 8% of open surgical procedures and 0% and fewer than 1% of endoscopic procedures resulted in major (deep wound infection) and minor complications, respectively.

Conclusions: Although most of the studies identified were case series and reports, the results consistently showed improvement in pain and a low incidence of complications, particularly for endoscopic procedures. These findings lend credence to surgical management as a viable option for buttock pain caused by deep gluteal syndrome and warrant further investigation.

Level of evidence: Level IV, systematic review of Level II through IV studies.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Piriformis Muscle Syndrome / therapy*
  • Sciatic Nerve / surgery*
  • Sciatica / therapy*

Supplementary concepts

  • Hip socket neuropathy