A Technical Guide for Sciatic Nerve Targeted Muscle Reinnervation in a Transfemoral Amputee

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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There are approximately 2 million people living with the loss of a major limb in America. It is estimated that 95% of these will have some form of pain associated with their amputation. Phantom limb pain, related to symptomatic neuromas, contributes to amputation morbidity and can be difficult to treat. Studies have shown that targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR), by giving symptomatic neuromas "somewhere to go and something to do," can be an effective therapy. However, a large proportion of surgeons still treat symptomatic neuromas by burying them in nearby tissue.

Methods: We treated a patient with previous above-the-knee amputation, complicated by a symptomatic neuroma, with TMR. We identified and described nine steps to the procedure. Our description is accompanied by illustrative, intraoperative photographs and technical pearls.

Results: This article provides a description of TMR technique involving a neuroma of the sciatic nerve and its branches, to treat an above-the-knee amputation, with the aim of making this approach more accessible. At 9-month follow-up, the patient had active firing of the recipient muscles with donor nerve stimulation indicating successful reinnervation. The patient continued to report stump pain, but with intermittent pain-free days.

Conclusions: TMR has proven potential as a therapy for amputation-related, neuropathic pain. With this technical guide to TMR, surgeons should feel more comfortable adding this technique to their armamentarium, to be utilized either at the time of amputation or as a secondary measure.