Nerve lesions are well known reasons for reduced functional capacity and diminished quality of life. By now only a few epidemiological studies focus on lower extremity trauma related nerve injuries. This study reveals frequency and characteristics of nerve damages in patients with leg trauma in the European context.
Sixty thousand four hundred twenty-two significant limb trauma cases were derived from the TraumaRegister DGU® between 2002 and 2015. The TR-DGU is a multi- centre database of severely injured patients. We compared patients with additional nerve injury to those with intact neural structures for demographic data, trauma mechanisms, concomitant injuries, treatment and outcome parameters.
Approximately 1,8% of patients with injured lower extremities suffer from additional nerve trauma. These patients were younger (mean age 38,1 y) and more likely of male sex (80%) compared to the patients without nerve injury (mean age 46,7 y; 68,4% male). This study suggests the peroneal nerve to be the most frequently involved neural structure (50,9%). Patients with concomitant nerve lesions generally required a longer hospital stay and exhibited a higher rate for subsequent rehabilitation. Peripheral nerve damage was mainly a consequence of motorbike (31,2%) and car accidents (30,7%), whereas leg trauma without nerve lesion most frequently resulted from car collisions (29,6%) and falls (29,8%).
Despite of its low frequency nerve injury remains a main cause for reduced functional capacity and induces high socioeconomic expenditures due to prolonged rehabilitation and absenteeism of the mostly young trauma victims. Further research is necessary to get insight into management and long term outcome of peripheral nerve injuries.