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Scientific Articles   |    
Contralateral C7 Nerve Transfer with Direct Coaptation to Restore Lower Trunk Function After Traumatic Brachial Plexus Avulsion
Shu-feng Wang, MD1; Peng-cheng Li, MD1; Yun-hao Xue, MD1; Hon-wah Yiu, MD2; Yu-Cheng Li, MD1; Hai-hua Wang, MD1
1 Department of Hand Surgery, Beijing Jishuitan Hospital, No. 31 East Street of Xinjiekou, West District, Beijing 100035, Republic of China. E-mail address for S.-f. Wang: wangshufeng1964@yahoo.com.cn
2 Department of Orthopaedics, North District Hospital, No. 1 Po kin Road, Fanling, New Territories HKSAR, Hong Kong
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Investigation performed at the Department of Hand Surgery, Beijing Jishuitan Hospital, Beijing, Republic of China



Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 May 01;95(9):821-827. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00039
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Abstract

Background: 

Contralateral C7 nerve transfer to the median nerve has been used in an attempt to restore finger flexion in patients with total brachial plexus avulsion injury. However, the results have not been satisfactory mainly because of the requirement to use a long bridging nerve graft, which causes an extended nerve regeneration process and irreversible muscle atrophy. A new procedure involving contralateral C7 nerve transfer via a modified prespinal route and direct coaptation with the injured lower trunk is presented here.

Methods: 

Contralateral C7 nerve transfer via the modified prespinal route and direct coaptation with the injured lower trunk was performed in seventy-five patients with total brachial plexus avulsion injury. Thirty-five required humeral shortening osteotomy (3 to 4.5 cm) in order to accomplish the direct coaptation. The contralateral C7 nerve was also transferred to the musculocutaneous nerve through the bridging medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve arising from the lower trunk in forty-seven of the seventy-five patients. Recovery of finger, wrist, and elbow flexion was evaluated with use of the modified British Medical Research Council muscle grading system.

Results: 

The mean follow-up period (and standard deviation) was 57 ± 6 months (range, forty-eight to seventy-eight months). Motor function with a grade of M3+ or greater was attained in 60% of the patients for elbow flexion, 64% of the patients for finger flexion, 53% of the patients for thumb flexion, and 72% of the patients for wrist flexion.

Conclusions: 

Contralateral C7 nerve transfer via a modified prespinal route and direct coaptation with the injured lower trunk decreases the distance for nerve regeneration in patients with total brachial plexus avulsion injury. There was satisfactory recovery of finger flexion and wrist flexion in this series. In addition, contralateral C7 nerve transfer was successfully used to repair two different target nerves: the lower trunk and the musculocutaneous nerve.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    References

    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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