Femoral nerve decompression and sartorius-to-quadriceps nerve transfers for partial femoral nerve injury: a cadaveric study and early case series

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  • 1 Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, Fraser Health Authority/University of British Columbia, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada;
  • 2 Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri;
  • 3 Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and
  • 4 Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio
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OBJECTIVE

Partial femoral nerve injuries cause significant disability with ambulation. Due to their more proximal and superficial location, sartorius branches are often spared in femoral nerve injuries. In this article, the authors report the benefits of femoral nerve decompression, demonstrate the feasibility of sartorius-to-quadriceps nerve transfers in a cadaveric study, describe the surgical technique, and report clinical results.

METHODS

Four fresh-frozen cadaveric lower limbs were dissected for anatomical analysis of the sartorius nerve. In addition, a retrospective review of patients with partial femoral nerve injuries treated with femoral nerve decompression and sartorius-to-quadriceps nerve transfers was conducted. Pre- and postoperative knee extension Medical Research Council (MRC) grades and pain scores (visual analog scale) were collected.

RESULTS

Up to 6 superficial femoral branches innervate the sartorius muscle just distal to the inguinal ligament. Each branch yielded an average of 672 nerve fibers (range 99–1850). Six patients underwent femoral nerve decompression and sartorius-to-quadriceps nerve transfers. Four patients also had concomitant obturator-to-quadriceps nerve transfers. At final follow-up (average 13.4 months), all patients achieved MRC grade 4−/5 or greater knee extension. The average preoperative pain score was 5.2, which decreased to 2.2 postoperatively (p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS

Femoral nerve decompression and nerve transfer using sartorius branches are a viable tool for restoring function in partial femoral nerve injuries. Sartorius branches serve as ideal donors in quadriceps nerve transfers because they are expendable, are close to their recipients, and have an adequate supply of nerve fibers.

ABBREVIATIONS EMG = electromyography; ETE = end-to-end; MRC = Medical Research Council; MUAP = motor unit action potential; ROM = range of motion; SETS = supercharged end-to-side.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Amy M. Moore: The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. amy.m.moore@osumc.edu.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online November 6, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2020.6.JNS20251.

Disclosures Dr. Moore: Consultant for Checkpoint Surgical, Inc.

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