Neurotization in brachial plexus injuries. Indication and results

A O Narakas, V R Hentz
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 1988, (237): 43-56
In neurotization or nerve transfer, a healthy but less valuable nerve or its proximal stump is transferred in order to reinnervate a more important sensory or motor territory that has lost its innervation through irreparable damage to its nerve. In brachial plexus injuries, extraplexal nerves such as the spinal accessory nerve, rami of the cervical plexus, or intercostal nerves are transferred onto trunks, cords, or individual nerves or else segments of the brachial plexus that maintain continuity with the spinal cord may be coapted to trunks or cords the surgeon wishes to innervate. This method is particularly indicated in root avulsion injuries that occur frequently following traction trauma to the brachial plexus. The authors convey their experience with neurotization using the long thoracic nerve in seven cases, the accessory nerve in 30 cases, intercostal nerves in 66 cases, and various nerve transfers within the plexus in 31 cases. Results of other authors are also reported. With these methods, it is possible to obtain good elbow flexion in more than one-half of patients; however, only limited shoulder function and no useful finger function are obtained.

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