BACKGROUND: Sciatic nerve injuries are challenging for diagnosis and treatment. Particularly in proximally located high-grade injuries, neurorrhaphy often has poor outcomes. Most advocate autologous grafting and some more recently have suggested the value of knee flexion braces to facilitate end-to-end repair. OBJECTIVE: To describe a case of femur shortening to facilitate tension-free, end-to-end sciatic nerve neurorrhaphy. METHODS: The patient was a 17-year-old man who was injured by the propeller of a motor boat and suffered a series of lacerations to both lower extremities including transection of his right sciatic nerve in the proximal thigh. After extensive mobilization of the nerve, a greater than 7-cm gap was still present. The patient was treated with femur shortening to facilitate end-to-end coaptation. He subsequently had an expandable rod placed which was lengthened 1 mm per day until his leg length was symmetric. RESULTS: Within 7 months postoperatively, the patient had an advancing Tinel sign and paresthesias to the dorsum of his foot. Nine months postoperatively, he had early mobility in his plantarflexion. CONCLUSION: We present a novel method of femur shortening with insertion of an expandable rod to facilitate direct end-to-end and tension-free sciatic nerve neurorrhaphy in a proximally located injury. Furthermore, larger scale and comparative studies are warranted to further explore this and other techniques.
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