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Jayme Augusto Bertelli, Marcos Flávio Ghizoni and Cristiano Paulo Tacca

In a case involving tetraplegia and paralysis of elbow extension, the authors transferred teres minor branches to the nerve of the triceps long head. Surgery was performed bilaterally 9 months after the patient sustained a spinal cord injury. Fourteen months postoperatively, elbow extension was complete (British Medical Research Council Score M4). Harvesting of the teres minor motor branch produced no deficits in shoulder function. In patients with tetraplegia, nerve transfer seems to be a promising new alternative for elbow extension reconstruction.

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Jayme Augusto Bertelli, Marcos Flávio Ghizoni and Cristiano Paulo Tacca

OBJECT

The objective of this study was to report the results of pronator quadratus (PQ) motor branch transfers to the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) motor branch to reconstruct wrist extension in C5–8 root lesions of the brachial plexus.

METHODS

Twenty-eight patients, averaging 24 years of age, with C5–8 root injuries underwent operations an average of 7 months after their accident. In 19 patients, wrist extension was impossible at baseline, whereas in 9 patients wrist extension was managed by activating thumb and wrist extensors. When these 9 patients grasped an object, their wrist dropped and grasp strength was lost. Wrist extension was reconstructed by transferring the PQ motor to the ECRB motor branch. After surgery, patients were followed for at least 12 months, with final follow-up an average of 22 months after surgery.

RESULTS

Successful reinnervation of the ECRB was demonstrated in 27 of the 28 patients. In 25 of the patients, wrist extension scored M4, and in 2 it scored M3.

CONCLUSIONS

In C5–8 root injuries, wrist extension can be predictably reconstructed by transferring the PQ motor branch to reinnervate the ECRB.

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Tarek EI Madhoun and Rajiv Midha

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Jayme Augusto Bertelli, Jean Claude Mira, Monique Pecot-Dechavassine and Alain Sebille

✓ Misdirection of sensory fibers into motor pathways is, in part, responsible for the poor results obtained after peripheral nerve repair. After avulsion of the C-5 root in rats, the authors connected a C-4 ventral rootlet to the musculocutaneous nerve by means of a sural nerve graft. In this way, they were able to increase the number of regenerating motor fibers and avoid growth of sensory fibers into the nerve grafts. Functional recovery was evaluated electrophysiologically and histologically. The origin of the axons that reinnervated the nerve graft was analyzed by means of morphological studies including retrograde labeling procedures. Motor neurons survived and regenerated after the rootlet transfer and there was no functional impairment. Many neurons were retrograde labeled in the ventral horn and widespread biceps muscle reinnervation was demonstrated with recovery of nearly normal electrophysiological properties. Motor hyperreinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was observed. This high degree of reinnervation in a long (40-mm) graft was attributed to the good chance that a muscle fiber can be reinnervated by a motor fiber when the number of regenerating motor neurons is increased and when competitive sensory fibers are excluded from reinnervation.

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Jayme Augusto Bertelli, Paulo Roberto Kechele, Marcos Antonio Santos, Hamilton Duarte and Marcos Flávio Ghizoni

Object

Grafting or nerve transfers to the axillary nerve have been performed using a deltopectoral approach and/or a posterior arm approach. In this report, the surgical anatomy of the axillary nerve was studied with the goal of repairing the nerve through an axillary access.

Methods

The axillary nerve was bilaterally dissected in 10 embalmed cadavers to study its variations. Three patients with axillary nerve injuries then underwent surgical repair through an axillary access; the axillary nerve was repaired by transfer of the triceps long head motor branch.

Results

At the lateral margin of the subscapularis muscle, the axillary nerve was found in the center of a triangle bounded medially by the subscapular artery, laterally by the latissimus dorsi tendon, and cephalad by the posterior circumflex humeral artery. At the entrance of the quadrangular space, the axillary nerve divisions were loosely connected to each other, and could be clearly separated and correctly identified. Surgery for the axillary nerve repair through the axillary access was straightforward. Eighteen months after surgery, all three patients had recovered deltoid strength to a score of M4 on the Medical Research Council scale and had improved abduction strength by 50%. No deficit was evident in elbow extension.

Conclusions

The axillary nerve and its branches can be safely dissected and repaired by triceps motor nerve transfer through an axillary access.

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Jayme Augusto Bertelli, Paulo Roberto Kechele, Marcos Antonio Santos, Bruno Adler Maccagnan Pinheiro Besen and Hamilton Duarte

Object

In C7–T1 palsies of the brachial plexus, shoulder and elbow function is preserved, but finger motion is absent. Finger flexion has been reconstructed using tendon or nerve transfers. Finger extension has been restored ineffectively by attaching the extensor tendons to the distal side of the dorsal radius (that is, tenodesis). In these types of nerve palsy, supinator muscle function is preserved because innervation stems from the C-6 root. In the present study, the authors investigated the anatomy and the feasibility of transferring the supinator motor branches to the posterior interosseous nerve. Sacrifice of the supinator motor branches does not abolish supination because biceps muscle function is preserved in lower-type injuries of the brachial plexus.

Methods

The posterior interosseous nerve was dissected in 20 formalin-fixed forearms. Through posterior forearm access, the posterior interosseous nerve and its motor branches to the supinator muscle were dissected. Specimens were removed for histological study.

Results

In the vicinity of the supinator muscle's proximal margin (that is, the Frohse arcade), 2 nerve branches arose laterally and medially from the posterior interosseous nerve to innervate the superficial and deep heads of the supinator muscle, respectively. The supinator motor nerves, when divided, could be coapted directly to the posterior interosseous nerve. The number of myelinated fibers in the supinator motor branches corresponded to 70% that of the posterior interosseous nerve.

Conclusions

The supinator motor nerves can be transferred directly to the posterior interosseous nerve to restore thumb and finger extension in patients with C7–T1 brachial plexus lesions.