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      Prospective study of superior cluneal nerve disorder as a potential cause of low back pain and leg symptoms

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          Entrapment of the superior cluneal nerve (SCN) in an osteofibrous tunnel has been reported as a cause of low back pain (LBP). However, there are few reports on the prevalence of SCN disorder and there are several reports only on favorable outcomes of treatment of SCN disorder on LBP. The purposes of this prospective study were to investigate the prevalence of SCN disorder and to characterize clinical manifestations of this clinical entity.


          A total of 834 patients suffering from LBP and/or leg symptoms were enrolled in this study. Diagnostic criteria for suspected SCN disorder were that the maximally tender point was on the posterior iliac crest 70 mm from the midline and that palpation of the tender point reproduced the chief complaint. When patients met both criteria, a nerve block injection was performed. At the initial evaluation, LBP and leg symptoms were assessed by visual analog scale (VAS) score. At 15 min and 1 week after the injection, VAS pain levels were recorded. If insufficient pain decrease or recurrence of pain was observed, injections were repeated weekly up to three times. Surgery was done under microscopy. Operative findings of the SCN and outcomes were recorded.


          Of the 834 patients, 113 (14%) met the criteria and were given nerve block injections. Of these, 54 (49%) had leg symptoms. Before injection, the mean VAS score was 68.6 ± 19.2 mm. At 1 week after injection, the mean VAS score significantly decreased to 45.2 ± 28.8 mm ( p < 0.05). Ninety-six of the 113 patients (85%) experienced more than a 20 mm decrease of the VAS score following three injections and 77 patients (68%) experienced more than a 50% decrease in the VAS score. Surgery was performed in 19 patients who had intractable symptoms. Complete and almost complete relief of leg symptoms were obtained in five of these surgical patients.


          SCN disorder is not a rare clinical entity and should be considered as a cause of chronic LBP or leg pain. Approximately 50% of SCN disorder patients had leg symptoms.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13018-014-0139-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Iliac crest bone graft harvest donor site morbidity. A statistical evaluation.

          This study analyzed the cause, rate, and risk factors of iliac crest bone graft donor site morbidity. All complications or problems, no matter how small, were sought to develop strategies of prevention. A wide range of major, 0.76% (Keller et al) to 25% (Summers et al) and minor complications, 9.4% (Keller et al) to 24% (Summers et al) has been reported. A consecutive series of 261 patients, whose bone graft harvest was done by one surgeon, was studied by chart review and a mail survey that was not conducted by the operating surgeon. The survey presented specific open-ended questions designed to uncover any complication/problem, no matter how small. Complications then were categorized as major or minor and subcategorized as acute or chronic. Statistical analysis was done using chi-squared and multiple logistical regression. None of the 261 patients had a severe perioperative complication--e.g., superior gluteal artery injury, sciatic nerve injury, or deep wound infection. None of the 225 patients with long term follow-up (average, 66 months; range, 32-105 months) had a severe late complication--e.g., donor site herniation, meralgia paresthetica, pelvic instability, or fracture. Of the 180 patients meeting the qualifications for statistical analysis, major complications occurred in 18 (10%), only three of which affected function (pain). Minor complications occurred in 70 (39%). The results indicated that severe complications from iliac crest bone graft harvest can be avoided and major complications affecting functioning are uncommon, but minor complications are common. The findings suggest that procedural refinements of limiting subcutaneous dissection and providing layered tension-free incision closure may improve results.
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            Harvesting autogenous iliac bone grafts. A review of complications and techniques.

            Autogenous bone grafts from the ilium are frequently harvested for purposes of bone union and/or stability. Although some donor site complications may be unavoidable, awareness of the anatomy and complications may aid in planning the approach and minimizing the risks. Documented donor site complications include pain, nerve and arterial injury, peritoneal perforation, sacroiliac joint instability, and herniation of abdominal contents through defects in the ilium. Strict observation of relevant anatomic considerations will help in avoiding these complications.
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              Chronic donor site pain complicating bone graft harvesting from the posterior iliac crest for spinal fusion.

              To explore the relationship between surgical approach and chronic posterior iliac crest donor site pain, 151 bone graft harvests with follow-up periods longer than 1 year were evaluated using a detailed questionnaire and follow-up clinical visits. There was no difference in the incidence of chronic donor site pain between harvests performed through the primary midline incision versus a separate lateral oblique incision (28 vs 31%). Twice as many donor sites harvested for reconstructive spinal procedures were reported as having chronic pain as compared with those harvested for spinal trauma, regardless of approach used (39 vs 18%). The association of chronic donor site pain with residual back pain was also greater in the spinal reconstructive group. Thus, it appears that incidence of chronic donor site pain is more dependent on diagnosis than on surgical approach.

                Author and article information

                J Orthop Surg Res
                J Orthop Surg Res
                Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                31 December 2014
                31 December 2014
                : 9
                : 1
                [ ]Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine, Fukuura 3-9, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa 236-0004 Japan
                [ ]Department of Spine and Spinal Cord Center, Yokohama Brain and Spine Center, Takigashira 1-1-2, Isogo-ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa 235-0012 Japan
                © Kuniya et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2014

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2014


                superior cluneal nerve, entrapment neuropathy, low back pain, leg pain, nerve block injection


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