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Nerve Damage After Surgery

Nerve Damage After Surgery

The different aspects of nerve damage after surgery are taken into account through this article. Focus of the article is on understanding about this complex medical problem through explanation of important points.
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
There is a high chance of nerves getting damaged due to bruises or cuts made by scalpel at the time of surgery. Inflammation of tissues surrounding the nerves also results into their damage. Damage caused to nerves in some cases, can be repaired. However, there is a high possibility that nerves get damaged permanently; the problem of nerve damage after surgery is therefore, quite a serious one. Let us find more on the subject of nerve injuries caused after a surgery through this article.
The nervous system is an important component of our body. It is basically divided in two types i.e. central and peripheral nervous system. The nervous system is a network formed of neurons which allow coordination between and regulation of various activities of the body. The injury caused to nerves is therefore, considered a serious matter. Injuries are varied in their form and hence, it becomes difficult to classify them into different types. However, in the year 1943, Sir Herbert Seddon tried to classify the different nerve injuries into 3 types i.e. neurapraxia, neurotmesis and axonotmesis.
  • Neurapraxia: In the condition called neurapraxia, there is no alteration in the structure of nerves however, conduction of impulse is interrupted due to the injury. This condition results from external injuries that are not very severe; loss of sensory and motor functions can be observed. Some of the complex coordinated body movements cannot take place in neurapraxia. This type of injury can be healed completely. It takes about 6-8 weeks for completely recovering from neurapraxia. Blood supply disruption and nerve compression are some of the effects of such type of nerve damage.
  • Axonotmesis: In this type of nerve injury, the neuronal axon and myelin sheath is disrupted. However, the other components like schwann cells, epineurium, perineurium and endoneurium remain intact. The injury caused to nerves is quite serious in nature if compared to that in neurapraxia. The axonotmesis nerve injury paralyzes sensory, motor or autonomic nerves.
  • Neurotmesis: This kind of nerve injury is characterized by stretches, contusions, lacerations, etc. It is the most severe nerve injury of all. In this type of injury, the connective tissues along with axons lose their continuity. In neurotmesis, the nerve and its sheath get disrupted. To put it simply, the nerve is snapped apart into two parts. It is possible to attain only a partial recovery from this kind of nerve injury.
Surgery Induced Nerve Damage
The condition of nerve damage has many underlying causes apart from the physical damage (bruises, cuts) that results from surgical instruments. Anesthesia is one of the causes of nerve damage. The discomfort caused by nerve damage could be temporary or long-lasting. Medications used in anesthesia or the syringe may cause damage to nerve tissues. In a condition called spinal epidural (regional anesthesia), injury caused by injection may damage the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage After Surgery
Different types of symptoms of nerve damage that are exhibited after a surgery can be found below.
  • A severe burning pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is sometimes experienced after a nerve surgery.
  • Changes in walking patterns or difficulty in walking properly is also amongst the symptoms of nerve damage.
  • If a nerve gets damaged during knee surgery, one might experience weakness in the feet or ankles.
  • Foot drop is another symptom of nerve damage exhibited after a knee surgery.
  • Dragging toe is one of the conditions that results from nerve damage after knee surgery.
  • One who has undergone such kind of surgery might experience a feeling of numbness or tingling in the area specific to the nerve getting damaged. Such kind of sensation is referred to as 'pin and needles'. Loss of innervation also is a term used in reference with this condition. It is not necessary that symptoms of nerve damage show up in body parts exactly where the damage has occurred. The nerves, as we know, form a complex network in the body. Therefore, the pain could be experienced at distant places, away from the actual site.
Femoral Nerve Damage After Surgery
The damage caused to femoral nerve present in legs results in a condition called femoral nerve dysfunction. This nerve is known to provide sensation to thighs and lower portions of legs. The nerve generally gets damaged at the time of surgery; it happens most probably due to operations carried out in the lithotomy position. In this position, the legs and thighs of the patient are flexed and he/she is made to lay on the back.
The aforementioned details about nerve damage include the causes and symptoms of different types of injuries. Information presented above should therefore, prove to be useful for those suffering from such problems; it would help in dealing with nerve injuries to some extent.