Variations of the piriformis and sciatic nerve with clinical consequence: A review


  • Nicolas Roydon Smoll

    Corresponding author
    1. Gippsland Medical School, Monash University, Churchill, Victoria, Australia
    2. Department of Chiropractic, RMIT University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
    • Monash University, Gippsland Medical School, Northways Road, Churchill, Victoria 3842, Australia
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The deep gluteal region is often encountered when performing injections, when performing surgery such as total hip replacements, or diagnosing problems of this region or lower limbs using clinical or imaging techniques. Previously, the prevalence figures of piriformis and sciatic nerve anomalies have ranged from 1.5 to 35.8% in dissected specimens. This study systematically reviews and meta-analyses the prevalence of piriformis and sciatic nerve anomalies in humans using previously published literature. A further review is conducted regarding the anatomical abnormalities present in surgical case series of procedures for patients suffering from piriformis syndrome. After pooling the results of 18 studies and 6,062 cadavers, the prevalence of the anomaly in cadavers was 16.9%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 16.0–17.9%. The prevalence of the piriformis and sciatic nerve anomaly in the surgical case series was 16.2%, 95% CI: 10.7–23.5%. The difference between the two groups was not found to be significant 0.74%; 95% CI: −5.66 to 7.13; P = 0.824. Because of the high likelihood of an anomaly being present in a patient, clinicians and surgeons should be aware of the potential complications this anomaly may have on medical or surgical interventions. Furthermore, because the prevalence of the anomaly in piriformis syndrome patients is not significantly different from what is thought to be a normal population, it indicates that this anomaly may not be as important in the pathogenesis of piriformis syndrome as previously thought. Clin. Anat. 23:8–17, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.