[Proximal median and ulnar resections. Results of primary and secondary repairs]

C E Dumont, J Y Alnot
Revue de Chirurgie Orthopédique et Réparatrice de L'appareil Moteur 1998, 84 (7): 590-9

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: Recovery after median and ulnar nerve proximal repair is widely appreciated. The place and time for secondary functional reconstruction remains controversial.

MATERIAL AND METHOD: From January 1983 to January 1990, 66 patients suffering from proximal injury of the median or ulnar nerves underwent nerve repair. Forty-five patients had a postoperative follow-up of more than 24 months: 24 isolated ulnar nerve lesions, 12 isolated median nerve lesions, and 9 combined median and ulnar nerve lesions. Ten patients were given a primary microsurgical nerve suture in our department. Thirty-eight patients underwent a delayed or secondary nerve repair of one or both nerves: 8 secondary nerve sutures, and 35 nerve grafts in 31 patients.

RESULTS: Muscular strength, sensitivity, motion, and pain were better after primary nerve sutures (when technically possible) or after shortly delayed secondary sutures, although 40 per cent of patients treated with nerve grafts get final "good" or "very good" results. The time between the injury and nerve repair was the most significant prognosis factor. Results of ulnar nerve repairs at the elbow were statistically better with anterior transposition as compared to in situ repairs (p < 0.005). Fourteen patients required secondary functional reconstruction. Tendon transfers were performed at least 24 months after nerve repair.

DISCUSSION: Nerve repair of proximal lesion to the median or ulnar nerves depends on the type of injury, but is advised even when delayed. Residual deficit following nerve repair should require functional transfers depending on hand sensitivity and extrinsic function.

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