Background: Both vascular and compression etiologies have been proposed as the source of neurologic symptoms in tarsal tunnel syndrome. Advancing the understanding of the arterial anatomy supplying the posterior tibial nerve (PTN) and its branches may provide insight into the cause of tarsal tunnel symptoms. The purpose of this study was to describe the arterial anatomy of the PTN and its branches. Methods: Sixty adult cadaveric lower extremities (thirty previously frozen and thirty fresh specimens) were amputated distal to the knee. The vascular supply to the PTN and its brancheswas identified,measured, and described macroscopically (the thirty previously frozen specimens, prepared using a formerly described debridement technique) and microscopically (the thirty fresh specimens, processed using the Spälteholz technique). Results: On both macroscopic and microscopic evaluation, the PTN and the medial and lateral plantar nerves were observed to have multiple entering vessels within the tarsal tunnel. On microscopic evaluation, a vessel was observed to enter the nerve at the bifurcation of the PTN into the medial and lateral plantar nerves in twenty-two (73%) of the thirty specimens. There was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in vascular density between the PTN and each of its branches. Conclusions: The abundant blood supply to the PTN and its branches identified in this study is consistent with observations of other peripheral nerves. This rich vascular network may render the PTN and its branches susceptible to nerve compression related to vascular congestion. The combination of vascular and structural compression may also elicit neurologic symptoms. Clinical Relevance: Advancing the understanding of the arterial anatomy supplying the PTN and its branches may provide insight into the cause and treatment of tarsal tunnel syndrome.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
|Published - Mar 16 2016