Pavel Haninec and Radek Kaiser
Nerve repair using motor fascicles of a different nerve was first described for the repair of elbow flexion (Oberlin technique). In this paper, the authors describe their experience with a similar method for axillary nerve reconstruction in cases of upper brachial plexus palsy.
Of 791 nerve reconstructions performed by the senior author (P.H.) between 1993 and 2011 in 441 patients with brachial plexus injury, 14 involved axillary nerve repair by fascicle transfer from the ulnar or median nerve. All 14 of these procedures were performed between 2007 and 2010. This technique was used only when there was a deficit of the thoracodorsal or long thoracic nerve, which are normally used as donors.
Nine patients were followed up for 24 months or longer. Good recovery of deltoid muscle strength was seen in 7 (77.8%) of these 9 patients, and in 4 patients with less follow-up (14–23 months), for an overall success rate of 78.6%. The procedure was unsuccessful in 2 of the 9 patients with at least 24 months of follow-up. The first showed no signs of reinnervation of the axillary nerve by either clinical or electromyographic evaluation in 26 months of follow-up, and the second had Medical Research Council (MRC) Grade 2 strength in the deltoid muscle 36 months after the operation. The last of the group of 14 patients has had 12 months of follow-up and is showing progressive improvement of deltoid muscle function (MRC Grade 2).
The authors conclude that fascicle transfer from the ulnar or median nerve onto the axillary nerve is a safe and effective method for reconstruction of the axillary nerve in patients with upper brachial plexus injury.
Pavel Haninec, Libor Mencl and Radek Kaiser
Although a number of theoretical and experimental studies dealing with end-to-side neurorrhaphy (ETSN) have been published to date, there is still a considerable lack of clinical trials investigating this technique. Here, the authors describe their experience with ETSN in axillary and musculocutaneous nerve reconstruction in patients with brachial plexus palsy.
From 1999 to 2007, out of 791 reconstructed nerves in 441 patients treated for brachial plexus injury, the authors performed 21 axillary and 2 musculocutaneous nerve sutures onto the median, ulnar, or radial nerves. This technique was only performed in patients whose donor nerves, such as the thoracodorsal and medial pectoral nerves, which the authors generally use for repair of axillary and musculocutaneous nerves, respectively, were not available. In all patients, a perineurial suture was carried out after the creation of a perineurial window.
The overall success rate of the ETSN was 43.5%. Reinnervation of the deltoid muscle with axillary nerve suture was successful in 47.6% of the patients, but reinnervation of the biceps muscle was unsuccessful in the 2 patients undergoing musculocutaneous nerve repair.
The authors conclude that ETSN should be performed in axillary nerve reconstruction but only when commonly used donor nerves are not available.