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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2021 August;65(4):431-41

DOI: 10.23736/S0390-5616.21.05312-1

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Nerve transfers in tetraplegia: a review and practical guide

Mohammadreza EMAMHADI 1 , Mohammad HAGHANI DOGAHE 1, Andreas GOHRITZ 2

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury Center, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran; 2 Unit of Plastic, Reconstructive, Aesthetic and Hand Surgery, University Hospital of Basel, Basel, Switzerland



INTRODUCTION: Spinal cord injury (SCI) may lead to tetraplegia. Several nerve transfers have been successfully used for the restoration of the upper limb in tetraplegia. Reconstruction of an upper limb is individualized based on the functional level. In this study, the authors reviewed nerve transfers based on the injury level for the restoration of upper limb function in tetraplegia.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: We performed this study to review nerve transfers in tetraplegia by searching MEDLINE and EMBASE databases to identify relevant articles published through December 2020. We selected studies that reported cases in tetraplegia and extracted information on demographic data, clinical characteristics, operative details, and strength outcomes based on each injury level after surgery.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Total of 29 journal articles reporting on 275 nerve transfers in 172 upper limbs of 121 patients were included in the review. The mean time between SCI and nerve transfer surgery was 21.37 months (range: 4-156 months), and the follow-up time was 21.34 months (range: 3-38 months). The best outcomes were achieved for the restoration of wrist/finger extension and elbow extension.
CONCLUSIONS: Nerve transfer can provide a new function in tetraplegic patients’ upper limbs to improve daily living activities. The type of surgical procedure should be performed based on the functional level of SCI and the individual’s needs. Functional recovery occurs more in extensor muscles than flexors. Nerve transfer is a promising option in the reconstruction of upper limb function in tetraplegia.


KEY WORDS: Spinal cord injuries; Quadriplegia; Nerve transfer; Reconstructive surgical procedures

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