Treatment approach to isolated common peroneal nerve palsy by mechanism of injury: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participants' data

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2022 Feb;75(2):683-702. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2021.09.040. Epub 2021 Oct 30.


Background: We reviewed the individual participant data of patients who sustained isolated common peroneal nerve (CPN) injuries resulting in foot drop. Functional results were compared between eight interventions for CPN palsies to determine step-wise treatment approaches for the underlying mechanisms of nerve injury.

Methods: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Scopus, and CINAHL databases were searched. PRISMA-IPD and Cochrane guidelines were followed in the data search. Eligible patients sustained isolated CPN injuries resulting in their foot drop. Patients were stratified by mechanisms of nerve injury, ages, duration of motor symptoms, and nerve defect/zone of injury sizes, and were compared by functional results (poor = 0, fair = 1, good = 2, excellent = 3), using meta-regression between interventions. Interventions evaluated were primary neurorrhaphy, neurolysis, nerve grafts, partial nerve transfer, neuromusculotendinous transfer, tendon transfer, ankle-foot orthosis (AFO), and arthrodesis.

Results: One hundred and forty-four studies included 1284 patients published from 1985 through 2020. Transection/Cut: Excellent functional results following tendon transfer (OR: 126, 95%CI: 6.9, 2279.7, p=0.001), compared to AFO. Rupture/Avulsion: Excellent functional results following tendon transfer (OR: 73985359, 95%CI: 73985359, 73985359, p<0.001), nerve graft (OR: 4465917, 95%CI: 1288542, 15478276, p<0.001), and neuromusculotendinous transfer (OR: 42277348, 95%CI: 3001397, 595514030, p<0.001), compared to AFO. Traction/Stretch: Good functional results following tendon transfer (OR: 4.1, 95%CI: 1.17, 14.38, p=0.028), compared to AFO. Entrapment: Excellent functional results following neurolysis (OR: 4.6, 95%CI: 1.3, 16.6, p=0.019), compared to AFO.

Conclusions: Functional results may be optimized for treatments by the mechanism of nerve injury. Transection/Cut and Traction/Stretch had the best functional results following tendon transfer. Rupture/Avulsion had the best functional results following tendon transfer, nerve graft, or neuromusculotendinous transfer. Entrapment had the best functional results following neurolysis.

Keywords: Neurosurgical Procedures; Peripheral Nerve Injuries; Peroneal Nerve; Peroneal Neuropathies; Tendon Transfer.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nerve Transfer*
  • Paralysis / surgery
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries* / surgery
  • Peroneal Nerve / injuries
  • Peroneal Neuropathies* / surgery
  • Tendon Transfer / methods