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Neurolysis for meralgia paresthetica.

OBJECTIVE: Meralgia paresthetica (MP) is a syndrome of pain and/or dysesthesia in the anterolateral thigh that is caused by an entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) at its pelvic exit. Despite early accounts of MP, there is still no consensus concerning the effectiveness of neurolysis or transaction treatments in the long-term relief for medically refractory patients with MP. We retrospectively analyzed available long-term results of LFCN neurolysis for medically refractory MP in an effort to clarify this issue.

METHODS: During the last 7 years, 11 patients who had neurolysis for MP were enrolled in this study. Nerve entrapment was confirmed preoperatively by electrophysiological studies or a positive response to local anesthetic injection. Decompression of the LFCN was performed at the level of the iliac fascia, inguinal ligament, and fascia of the thigh distally. The outcome of surgery was assessed 8 weeks after the procedure followed at regular intervals if symptoms persisted.

RESULTS: Twelve decompression procedures were performed in 11 patients over a 7-year period. The average duration of symptoms was 8.5 months (range, 4-15 months). The average follow-up period was 33 months (range, 12-60 months). Complete and partial symptom improvement were noted in nine (81.8%) and two (18.2%) cases, respectively. No recurrence was reported.

CONCLUSION: Neurolysis of the LFCN can provide adequate pain relief with minimal complications for medically refractory MP. To achieve a good outcome in neurolysis for MP, an accurate diagnosis with careful examination and repeated blocks of the LFCN, along with electrodiagnosis seems to be essential. Possible variation in the course of the LFCN and thorough decompression along the course of the LFCN should be kept in mind in planning decompression surgery for MP.

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