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Anyone have nerve damage to leg during surgery?


Hello all,

I’m wondering if anyone has had similar issues following surgery

Brief summary:

  1. July 2022: had a heart attack and stent placed. Began 1 year treatment with Plavix to prevent clotting of cardiac stent.
  2. September 2022: diagnosed with DCIS. Surgery delayed due to recent heart attack and Plavix. Began treatment with Anastrozole.
  3. July 2023 Monday: Lumpectomy and bilateral reduction under general anesthesia. When I woke up, I could not lift my right leg off the bed. Sensations were all normal. My PS said most likely related to positioning during surgery. I was admitted.
  4. Tuesday: Very slight improvement. Neurologist consulted. Head CT, head MRI, lumbar spine MRI ordered. CT scan conducted, ruled out stroke. MRI was backed up. Physical therapy saw me, gave me a walker. At this point I could walk with tiny baby steps. Lifting leg off ground was extremely difficult.
  5. Wednesday: continued little by little improvement. Waited for MRI all day.
  6. Thursday: 1 A.M. MRI. Waited all day for results, but none were given. PT came to work with me again which was super helpful.
  7. Friday: PS surgery resident comes in early and says MRIs we’re clear. There’s no explanation for the leg weakness. Prescription for physical therapy. (They tried to get someone to come to our house, ut we live in a ti y rural town and agencies that did come here are not covered by my insurance .) Finally released mid day.
  8. Saturday (today): continued small improvements each day, but seems like a long way from my baseline. Since my heart attack I have made significant lifestyle changes to improve my health. A week ago I was climbing the hilly roads and hiking in the nearby state forest. This feels like a huge setback.

I will schedule PT with one of the in network providers outpatient and follow up with primary care on Monday. Putting aside my frustration about the delays and poor communication between my care team members and to me, not to mention what an emotional rollercoaster this last year has been, I am left with lots of questions and concerns.

Has anyone had a similar experience after surgery?


  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,285

    @Granhillbillian - Again, welcome to the BCO community. We're sorry that you haven't had any replies yet. Sometimes posts fall out of Active Topics and get lost. Hopefully, this post will bump the thread up and we'll see if someone can help. In the meantime, let us know if you need any help at all navigating the boards or finding information on the main site. We're here for you!

    The Mods

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 1,073

    @Granhillbillian , While there is no knowing whether the leg weakness is due to surgery or just happened for another reason at the same time, it is probably worth investigating exactly what happened during the surgery and while you were hospitalized. You can request all of the medical notes written by all of the providers who participated in the surgery (anesthesiologists, surgeons, residents) from the hospital as well as all other medical records from the hospital stay. They will be quite lengthy (hundreds of pages) but something might be noted or stand out. It's not easy to wade through this without medical training but you might be able to pay a professional to review them to see if a possible cause can be found. You can also ask for CDs of any imaging that was done for the reviewer.

    I did this for an emergency surgery not related to breast cancer. While I have a pretty good science background my daughter, a PA, also read the notes and viewed the scans (which I couldn't do.) There was something relevant that had happened in the ER prior to surgery and I was able to contact the appropriate doctor for treatment. This is quite time consuming but given the change in your mobility it might be worth it. I hope you continue to improve.

  • momgoose
    momgoose Member Posts: 71

    I agree with maggie15 - request your surgical notes and see if you can figure out anything unusual.

    That being said, I had a similar issue, but the cause is still not straight-forward. About 9 years ago, I had a badly ruptured disc. It took way too many doctors and far too long for it to be diagnosed, and then once it was, it took a total of 3 surgeries to actually fix it, including spinal fusion. I couldn't stand on my toes on the left prior to that fusion surgery, but when I woke up from the fusion, I also could bend my toes or walk without a limp and have had significant weakness in the left leg ever since. I was 35 and came home with a walker and then used a cane for 6 months. I did PT, and it helped minimally, but I will always have weakness and impairment in the left foot/leg.

    I can only assume that something happened in that fusion surgery that further damaged the nerve (maybe it got overstretched, or knicked during surgery) I will never know at this point. I do however, understand your frustration. You may never learn the reason for your weakness. It's possible you were positioned in a way that led to some nerve damage. It's possible you could have had a "small" stroke. So many things could have happened. Hopefully, you will have your full function restored over time. It's still early days for you, but I'd definitely talk with all the doctors/surgeons and press for some answers.