Sciatic nerve and its variations: is it possible to associate them with piriformis syndrome?

Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2019 Sep 23;77(9):646-653. doi: 10.1590/0004-282X20190093. eCollection 2019.


The sciatic nerve forms from the roots of the lumbosacral plexus and emerges from the pelvis passing inferiorly to the piriformis muscle, towards the lower limb where it divides into common tibial and fibular nerves. Anatomical variations related to the area where the nerve divides, as well as its path, seem to be factors related to piriformis syndrome. OBJECTIVE To analyze the anatomical variations of the sciatic nerve and its clinical implications. METHODS This was a systematic review of articles indexed in the PubMed, LILACS, SciELO, SpringerLink, ScienceDirect and Latindex databases from August to September 2018. Original articles covering variations of the sciatic nerve were included. The level of the sciatic nerve division and its path in relation to the piriformis muscle was considered for this study. The collection was performed by two independent reviewers. RESULTS At the end of the search, 12 articles were selected, characterized according to the sample, method of evaluation of the anatomical structure and the main results. The most prevalent anatomical variation was that the common fibular nerve passed through the piriformis muscle fibers (33.3%). Three studies (25%) also observed anatomical variations not classified in the literature and, in three (25%) the presence of a double piriformis muscle was found. CONCLUSION The results of this review showed the most prevalent variations of the sciatic nerve and point to a possible association of this condition with piriformis syndrome. Therefore, these variations should be considered during the semiology of disorders involving parts of the lower limbs.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomic Variation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Illustration
  • Piriformis Muscle Syndrome / etiology
  • Piriformis Muscle Syndrome / pathology*
  • Sciatic Nerve / anatomy & histology*