Anatomic considerations and the relationship between the piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve.

Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Dokuz Eylül University, 35340 Balçova/Izmir, Turkey.
Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy (Impact Factor: 1.13). 08/2008; 30(6):467-74. DOI: 10.1007/s00276-008-0350-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT STATING BACKGROUND: The piriformis syndrome is one of the non-discogenics causes of sciatica. It results from the compression of the sciatic nerve (SN) by the piriformis muscle (PM) in the neutral and piriformis stretch test position. The evidence of the increase in pain in the test position requires a detailed anatomical study addressing the changes that occurred in the SN and PM anatomy during the test position. The aim of this study is to examine this relationship morphometrically.
A total of 20 right and left lower limbs of ten adult cadavers were examined. The SN and the PM were made visible. The location of the SN was evaluated with respect to the consistent bony landmarks, including the greater and the lesser trochanter of the femur, the ischial tuberosity, the ischial spine of the hip bone, the posterior inferior iliac spine of the hip bone and the posterior superior iliac spine of the hip bone. The study was done in both neutral and test positions (i.e., 30 degrees adduction 60 degrees flexion and approximately 10 degrees medial rotation position of the hip joint).
The width of the greater sciatic notch was 63.09 +/- 13.59 mm. The length of the lower edge of the PM was 95.49 +/- 6.21 mm, and whereas the diameter of the SN where it emerged from the infrapiriforme was 17.00 +/- 3.70 mm, the diameter decreased to 11.03 +/- 2.52 mm at the level of the lesser trochanter of the femur. The SN intersected the PM most commonly in its medial second quarter anatomically. The vertical distance between the medial edge of the SN-PM intersection point and the ischial tuberosity was 85.62 +/- 17.23 and 72.28 +/- 7.56 mm (P < 0.05); the angle between the SN and the transverse plane was 66.36 degrees +/- 6.68 degrees and 71.90 +/- 8.48 degrees (P < 0.05); and the vertical distance between the medial edge of the SN and the apex of the ischial spine of the hip bone was 17.33 +/- 4.89 and 15.84 +/- 4.63 mm (P > 0.05), before and after the test position, respectively.
This study provides helpful information regarding the course and the location of the SN. The presented morphometric data also revealed that after stretch test position, the infrapiriforme foramen becomes narrower; the SN becomes closer to the ischial spine of the hip bone, and the angle between the SN and the transverse plane increases. This study confirmed that the SN is prone to be trapped in the test position, and diagnosis of this situation requires dynamic MR and MR neurography study.

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