Prevalence of peripheral nervous system complications after major heart surgery

Armando Gavazzi, Francesca de Rino, Maria Claudia Boveri, Anna Picozzi, Massimo Franceschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluated 374 consecutive patients from May 2013 to April 2014 who underwent major cardiac surgery. Each patient had an interview and a neurological clinical examination during the rehabilitation period. Patients with possible peripheral nervous system (PNS) complications underwent further electrodiagnostic tests. Among 374 patients undergoing major heart surgery (coronary artery bypass grafting, valvular heart surgery, ascending aortic aneurysm repair) 23 (6.1 %) developed 34 new PNS complications. We found four brachial plexopathies; four carpal tunnel syndromes; five critical illness neuropathies; three worsening of pre-existing neuropathies; two involvement of X, one of IX and one of XII cranial nerves; three peroneal (at knee), one saphenous, two median (at Struthers ligament), six ulnar (at elbow) mononeuropathies; two meralgia parestheticas. Diabetes is a strong risk factor for PNS complications (p = 0.002); we could not find any other relationship of PNS complications with clinical conditions, demographic data (gender, age) or type of surgical intervention. The mononeuropathies of right arms can be related to ipsilateral vein cannulation; position of body and stretching from chest wall retraction may be the cause of mononeuropathies of left arms (more frequent); the use of saphenous vein and position of the limbs may be the cause of mononeuropathies of the legs; surgical and anesthetical procedures can injure cranial nerves; respiratory failure and infection during the first days after surgery can cause critical illness neuropathies. Careful preoperative assessment and intraoperative management may reduce the risk of long-term PNS complications after cardiac surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-209
Number of pages5
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Cardiac surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy
  • Peripheral nervous system complications
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence of peripheral nervous system complications after major heart surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this