Use of quantitative intra-operative electrodiagnosis during partial ulnar nerve transfer to restore elbow flexion: the treatment of eight patients following a brachial plexus injury

O Suzuki, T Sunagawa, K Yokota, Y Nakashima, R Shinomiya, K Nakanishi, M Ochi
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. British Volume 2011, 93 (3): 364-9
The transfer of part of the ulnar nerve to the musculocutaneous nerve, first described by Oberlin, can restore flexion of the elbow following brachial plexus injury. In this study we evaluated the additional benefits and effectiveness of quantitative electrodiagnosis to select a donor fascicle. Eight patients who had undergone transfer of a simple fascicle of the ulnar nerve to the motor branch of the musculocutaneous nerve were evaluated. In two early patients electrodiagnosis had not been used. In the remaining six patients, however, all fascicles of the ulnar nerve were separated and electrodiagnosis was performed after stimulation with a commercially available electromyographic system. In these procedures, recording electrodes were placed in flexor carpi ulnaris and the first dorsal interosseous. A single fascicle in the flexor carpi ulnaris in which a high amplitude had been recorded was selected as a donor and transferred to the musculocutaneous nerve. In the two patients who had not undergone electrodiagnosis, the recovery of biceps proved insufficient for normal use. Conversely, in the six patients in whom quantitative electrodiagnosis was used, elbow flexion recovered to an M4 level. Quantitative intra-operative electrodiagnosis is an effective method of selecting a favourable donor fascicle during the Oberlin procedure. Moreover, fascicles showing a high-amplitude in reading flexor carpi ulnaris are donor nerves that can restore normal elbow flexion without intrinsic loss.

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