Long-term results and the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand score analysis after modified Brooks and D'Aubigne tendon transfer for radial nerve palsy

A A Altintas, M A Altintas, E Gazyakan, T Gohla, G Germann, M Sauerbier
Journal of Hand Surgery 2009, 34 (3): 474-8

PURPOSE: Radial nerve damage results in substantial functional limitations of the upper extremity. No detailed data exist regarding long-term results, patient satisfaction, and professional and social reintegration after tendon transfer for irreparable damage to the radial nerve. In this retrospective study, we investigated these data through the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire.

METHODS: Between 1995 and 2006, 77 patients underwent a modified Brooks and d'Aubigne surgical technique for radial nerve palsy in our department. In 19 cases, the flexor carpi radialis muscle was used as a donor instead of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle. The mean follow-up period was 60 months (range, 24-150 months); motion of the wrist and finger joints and pinch-grip power were compared with the healthy side. We assessed the limitation in pursuing daily activities using the DASH score.

RESULTS: Wrist extension averaged 73% of the contralateral side, whereas the value for movement of digital extension was 32% and for thumb abduction in the palmar direction it was 80%. The power grip was reduced to 49% and the pinch grip was reduced to 28%. The mean DASH score was 15 +/- 9, the symptom score mean was 15 +/- 7, and the working score mean was 12 +/- 10. The mean total DASH score was 16 +/- 10. The proportion of patients who remained employed after surgical treatment was 89%.

CONCLUSIONS: Functional results, adequate patient satisfaction, and sufficient professional and social reintegration can be achieved after modified Brooks and d'Aubigne tendon transfer. Accordingly, the tendon transfer offers an important alternative-possibly the procedure of choice-to microsurgical nerve reconstruction, particularly when early professional and social reintegration is important.

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