Postsurgical Neuropathy: A Descriptive Review

Ruple S. Laughlin, Rebecca L. Johnson, Christopher M. Burkle, Nathan P. Staff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Postsurgical neuropathies represent an infrequent but potentially devastating complication of surgery that may result in significant morbidity with medicolegal implications. Elucidation of this phenomenon has evolved over the past few decades, with emerging evidence for not only iatrogenic factors contributing to this process but also inflammatory causes. This distinction can be important; for instance, cases in which inflammatory etiologies are suspected may benefit from further investigations including nerve biopsy and may benefit from treatment in the form of immunotherapy. In contrast, postsurgical neuropathies due to perioperative causes including anesthesia, traction, compression, and transection will not benefit in the same manner. This article summarizes early and current literature surrounding the frequency of new neurologic deficits after various surgical types, potential causes including anatomical and inflammatory considerations, and roles for treatment. To capture the scope of the issue, a literature review was conducted for human studies in English via MEDLINE and EMBASE from January 1, 1988 to March 31, 2018. Search terms included anesthesia and/or surgical procedures, operative, peripheral nervous system diseases, trauma, mononeuropathy, polyneuropathy, peripheral nervous system, nerve compression, neuropathy, plexopathy, postoperative, postsurgical, perioperative, complication. We excluded case series with less than 10 patients and review papers. We then narrowed the studies to those presented highlighting key concepts in postsurgical neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-369
Number of pages15
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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