Free gracilis transfer reinnervated by the nerve to the supinator for the reconstruction of finger and thumb extension in longstanding C7-T1 brachial plexus root avulsion

Francisco Soldado, Jayme Bertelli
Journal of Hand Surgery 2013, 38 (5): 941-6

PURPOSE: To report the clinical results of a free gracilis muscle transfer to finger and thumb extensors reinnervated by supinator muscle motor branches in patients with longstanding C7-T1 root avulsion.

METHODS: Between January 2010 and January 2011, 3 young adult patients with traumatic C7-T1 brachial plexus palsies had gracilis transfer to the thumb and finger extensors at a mean of 38 months after injury. The muscle flap was connected to radial vessels and comitant veins and to nerve branches supplying the supinator muscle.

RESULTS: All patients had recovery of active thumb and finger extension, scoring M3 and M4 on the Medical Research Council scale, respectively, at a mean of 12 months after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Reconstruction of finger and thumb extension in lower-type brachial plexus injuries is a challenging problem that is most commonly addressed with an extensor tenodesis technique, which depends on wrist flexion. Free gracilis transfer innervated by nerve branches to the supinator provided the restoration of thumb and finger extension independent of wrist flexion.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: For those patients with lower brachial root injury more than a year old, transfer of a free functional gracilis muscle is an alternative for the reconstruction of thumb and finger extension.


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