Traumatic neuroma of the superficial peroneal nerve in a patient: a case report and review of the literature
© The Author(s). 2016
Received: 23 September 2015
Accepted: 18 August 2016
Published: 10 September 2016
Traumatic neuromas are rare benign tumors, which are common in trauma or post-operation and accompanied with obvious symptoms of pain. This study will show the superficial peroneal nerve neuroma occurring after resection of hemangioma.
A 44-year-old male had an operation of the right leg cavernous hemangioma resection in 1995. Half a year after the operation, pain around the wound appeared and gradually aggravated. The patient had the lesion exploration resection in 2013, and the pathological result showed traumatic neuroma. Within half a year of the second operation, severe pain showed up again, so neuroma resection proceeded in May 2015. The postoperative pathological and immunohistochemical results showed traumatic neuroma. According to the postoperative follow-up, there were no symptoms of pain appearing again.
The pain is obvious, and B ultrasonography is the most efficient way to find neuromas. Both conservative and operative therapy have their advantages and disadvantages.
There remain many unanswered questions in relation to the treatment of traumatic neuromas, and further research is required, although we have already had adequate understanding of traumatic neuromas.
Traumatic neuromas are rarely seen in clinical practice but are common in trauma or post-operation. The main clinical manifestations are pain and paresthesia. Most scholars consider the occurrence of traumatic neuroma to be related to excess hyperplasia and irregular hyperplasia after nerve injury, so they are often regarded as benign tumors . Most reports show neuromas in the face, neck, and limbs, and the superficial peroneal nerve neuroma has not yet been reported in English literature at present. The purpose of this article is to show the details of a case of superficial peroneal neuroma after the operation of hemangioma, including clinical manifestation, clinical examination, diagnosis, and treatment, and review the relevant literature and which remain unanswered in the current literature.
Traumatic neuroma is very rare and seldom reported in English literature. Relatively, many traumatic neuromas occurring in the limbs, face, and neck can be found in the current literatures, and studies have also reported that traumatic neuroma could occur in the mammary gland, penis, and other body parts [1–4]. As discovered, most of the cases occurred secondary to direct trauma or operation. Currently, most scholars believe that this kind of lesion results from excessive repair and excess hyperplasia of oneself after nerve injury, so they do not consider it as tumor in situ [5–7]. Traumatic neuroma can be roughly classified into two categories. One is called terminal neuromas, which commonly occur in injured or divided proximal nerve terminal after injury or operation. After nerve division, distal axons begin apoptosis. To reconstruct nerve continuity, Schwann cells of the distal nerve will generate a channel for ingrowth of adjacent axons . However, in cases of too long distance between two segments of the injured nerve, proximal axons will grow toward multiple directions around so as to find a way for growth; thus, the appearance generally overgrows in bulbous-end-like shape , and besides, as nerve tissues grow more slowly than surrounding soft tissues, they will be mixed with other kinds of cells, such as fibroblast and mastocyte . The other one is spindle neuromas, which commonly occur in complete nerves and currently are considered as resulting from chronic stimulation and friction . There is also a report indicating that facial nerve hemangioma also can lead to traumatic neuroma under the condition of no trauma or operation history and no chronic stimulation and compression .
The generating mechanism of superficial peroneal neuroma reported in this study may be the reactive hyperplasia of the nerve. The injury is exactly at the branch of superficial peroneal nerve, reactive hyperplasia occurs in proximal end and further extends toward the trunk, thus generating eccentric neuroma occurring in superficial peroneal nerve trunk. In addition, we consider that the compression induced by scarring of surrounding soft tissues is also an important cause of traumatic neuroma.
The main manifestation of traumatic neuroma is pain, especially intense neuralgia [8, 11]. The pain may be generated for the following reasons or mechanisms: (1) stretched by surrounding scar tissues ; (2) compression on sensitive teleneuron by surrounding soft tissues ; (3) nerve tissue ischemia ; (4) ectopic foci of ion channels [15, 16]; (5) P substance, calcitonin gene related peptide and 5-hydroxytryptamine are released by mastocyte [9, 17]; and (6) peripheral regulation of kinds of ion channels or receptors (sodium channels, TRPA1, alpha1C receptors, and nerve growth factor) [15, 18–21]. The pain is often characterized by chixuxi low-intensity dull pain or intense paroxysmal burning pain and also can be induced by various outside simulations, such as temperature and touch. Tinel’s sign is usually positive . This kind of pain is difficult to control because it is often accompanied by central sensitization and social-psychological factors , and the change of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) may be the important element of central sensitization . There is also another pain that may be related to traumatic neuroma, called phantom pain, which results from sensing of the existence of amputated part . Ectopic discharge from a stump neuroma has been thought to be an important peripheral mechanism of phantom pain . Traumatic neuroma may also be characterized by paresthesia, such as hyperesthesia or feeling of numbness. One study reports on a case traumatic neuroma may have no manifestation during its development [8, 26].
MRI is only used in differential diagnosis with other soft tissue diseases , and its cost is high; patients have discomfort and real-time imaging cannot be used for display; thus, MRI has a limited value in diagnosis of traumatic neuroma.
The position and size of lesion and the relation between lesion and surrounding tissues and nerves can be detected directly via ultrasonography examination. Ultrasonography is one of most valuable methods in the diagnosis of traumatic neuroma. On one hand, ultrasonography examination is inexpensive, noninvasive, and non-harmful. And on the other hand, local nerve blocking can be conducted under the guidance of ultrasonography for the enhancement of the diagnosis, and pathological examination of living tissue can be implemented for the definite diagnoses [8, 28–30]. Ultrasound image of traumatic neuroma is generally oval, low-echo enclosed mass, clear and irregular probable boundary, diameter being greater than that of nerve trunk, and continuity with nerve . At histopathology, traumatic neuromas generally show in the following appearance: nonencapsulated tangled mass formed by Schwann cell, endoneurial cell, perineurial cell, and surrounding fibroblast .
The treatment of traumatic neuroma is still considered controversial. Conservative and operative therapy both have its advantage and disadvantage, which are listed in following content.
(1) Pharmacotherapy: Opioid analgesics, antidepressant drugs, antispasmodic drugs, α receptor blockers, and lidocaine are all used in the treatment of traumatic neuroma, but only have short-term therapeutic effect, and show significant side effects and declined therapeutic effect in long-term use [31–33]. Gabapentin and pregabalin are considered the effective medicine to inhibit central sensitization through affecting the calcium channels and reduce the excessive neurotransmitter release . (2) Repeated injection of lidocaine-hormone: It shows the symptom is improved in painful neuroma  but has significant side effects with long-term injection. (3) B ultrasound-guided percutaneous ethanol injection: can relieve painful neuroma significantly with continuous injection, and has high remission rate . (4) Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation (TMS): a rapid discharge of electric current is converted into dynamic magnetic flux for modulating neuronal functions . This analgesic effect seemed to be sustainable with repeated treatment delivered at a 6- to 8-week duration . (5) Injection of a tumor necrosis factor α blocker-enalapril to peripheral nerves can relieve the pain significantly . (6) Cryotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are both used in clinical treatment, but the therapeutic effect is unsatisfactory. Six months after radiofrequency ablation, there was significant decline in pain relief .
(1) Neuroma resection: Simple neuroma resection tends to have short-term therapeutic effect, together with relapse of neuroma . (2) Neuroma resection and ethanol injection: Appears to be only effective for patients who only suffer from short pain before operation, one-time nerve injury and one neuroma . (3) Neuroma resection and targeted nerve implantation (TNI): Such surgical method has been performed many times, and it is speculated to have a great role for prevention and treatment of neuroma . Its mechanism is as such: The proximal nerve ending at a secondary motor point is transplanted to an adjacent denervated muscle, and the regenerated axons may bifurcate and enter the myenteric motor nerve branches, so as to prevent formation of traumatic neuroma .
Adequate understanding of the traumatic neuroma appears essential. However, there remain many problems which require future research, such as (1) Should further remedial measures such as B ultrasound-guided percutaneous ethanol injection be taken after traumatic neuroma is confirmed by postoperative pathological report?; (2) Is it (traumatic neuroma) recurrent? Will it occur in sensory branch or motor branch?; (3) Does it develop to proximal trunk which is not adjacent with injured sites?; and (4) Is it useful to inject lidocaine when the nerve stump is closed? Further follow-up for condition of the patient and research is required.
We would like to thank the respondent of the study and all the people who provided help for this study.
The authors have no support or funding to report.
Availability of data and materials
All relevant data are within the paper.
JK participated in the design of this study and drafted the manuscript. PLY carried out the operation, together with QJZ, and collected important background information. XJH conceived of the study and participated in its design and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Consent for publication
We have obtained consent to publish from the participant to report his data.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
The study was permitted by the Ethical Review Committee of The Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University Medical School (Xi’an, Shaanxi, China). The patient consented to participate in this study.
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