Eur J Plast Surg (2003) 26:370–372
F. Vaes · L. De Smet
A rare cause of digital pain: the subepineural Pacinian corpuscle
Received: 14 May 2003 / Accepted: 9 September 2003 / Published online: 12 November 2003
Abstract A new case of subepineural Pacinian corpuscle
is described in a 33-year-old woman without a history of
trauma. Surgical excision resulted in complete pain relief.
Keywords Finger · Tumor · Pacinian corpuscle ·
Digital pain is not uncommon and can have many
different causes. The majority of tumors are not painful,
however some can be the origin of extreme distress i.e.
abnormalities, hyperplasia or tumors of Pacinian corpus-
cles. These are very rare and only a few cases have been
documented. Pacinian corpuscles are specialized nerve
endings with a lamellated structure, which are regarded as
pressure receptors and are also thought to play a role in
vibration sense. These structures are widely distributed
anatomically, notably around osteo-articular structures,
but mostly concentrated in the deep dermis and subcu-
taneous tissues of the flexor aspect of the digits, the palms
and the soles.
A 33-year-old woman presented at our out-patient clinic with
complaints of a slightly painful nodule at the base of the thumb and
another small painful nodule at the base of the index finger of the
left hand. There was no history of trauma.
On physical examination the nodule at the base of the thumb
had the typical consistency and localization of flexor tendon
ganglion. The nodule at the base of the index finger was very small
(31 mm), very tender on palpation with spread along the digital
nerve. The sensation in all fingers was normal, and the range of
motion was normal. The vascularity of the index finger was normal.
Allen’s test showed patency of both digital arteries. There were no
other tumors, nor other neurological symptoms.
After the first visit to the clinic, 1 month later a surgical
exploration was performed under regional block. Macroscopically
the nodule at the base of the thumb was indeed a ganglion of the
flexor tendon sheath. The nodule at the base of the index was
revealed to be a Vater Pacini corpuscle embedded in the digital
nerve (Fig. 1). The epineurium was incised and the pacinian
corpuscle was removed in toto. Histological examination confirmed
the diagnosis. At 1 month post-operatively all complaints were
gone and at 6 months post-operatively there were no signs of
Pacinian corpuscles can be found in different tissues.
Their anatomy has been described in detail, but their
F. Vaes · L. D. Smet (
Department of Orthopedic Surgery,
Weligerveld 1, 3212 Lubbeek, Pellenberg, Belgium
Tel.: +32-16-338800, Fax: +32-16-338803
Fig. 1 Intra-operative aspect. The Pacinian corpuscle is indicated
by the arrow