To evaluate the clinical outcomes in patients with radial nerve palsy who underwent nerve transfers using redundant fascicles of median nerve (innervating the flexor digitorum superficialis and flexor carpi radialis muscles) to the posterior interosseous nerve and the nerve to the extensor carpi radialis brevis.
This was a retrospective review of the clinical records of 19 patients with radial nerve injuries who underwent nerve transfer procedures using the median nerve as a donor nerve. All patients were evaluated using the Medical Research Council (MRC) grading system. The mean age of patients was 41 years (range, 17-78 y). All patients received at least 12 months of follow-up (range, 20.3 ± 5.8 mo). Surgery was performed at a mean of 5.7 ± 1.9 months postinjury.
Postoperative functional evaluation was graded according to the following scale: grades MRC 0/5 to MRC 2/5 were considered poor outcomes, whereas an MRC grade of 3/5 was a fair result, 4/5 was a good result, and 4+/5 was an excellent outcome. Postoperatively, all patients except one had good to excellent recovery of wrist extension. A total of 12 patients recovered good to excellent finger and thumb extension, 2 had fair recovery, and 5 had poor recovery.
The radial nerve is commonly injured, causing severe morbidity in affected patients. The median nerve provides a reliable source of donor nerve fascicles for radial nerve reinnervation. The important nuances of both surgical technique and motor reeducation critical for the success of this transfer have been identified and are discussed.
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