Surgical Anatomy of the Radial Nerve at the Elbow and in the Forearm: Anatomical Basis for Intraplexus Nerve Transfer to Reconstruct Thumb and Finger Extension in C7 − T1 Brachial Plexus Palsy

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Abstract

Background

C7 − T1 palsy results in complete loss of finger motion and poses a surgical challenge. This study investigated the anatomy of the radial nerve in the elbow and forearm and the feasibility of intraplexus nerve transfer to restore thumb and finger extension.

Methods

The radial nerves were dissected in 28 formalin-fixed upper extremities. Branching pattern, length, diameter, and number of myelinated fibers were recorded.

Results

Commonly, the branching pattern (from proximal to distal) was to the brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis longus, superficial sensory proximal to the lateral epicondyle, extensor carpi radialis brevis, supinator, extensor digitorum communis, extensor digiti minimi, extensor carpi ulnaris, abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis, extensor pollicis longus, and extensor indicis distal to the lateral epicondyle.

Conclusions

Branches to the brachioradialis, extensor carpi radialis longus, and supinator can be transferred to the posterior interosseous nerve to restore hand movement in patients with C7 − T1 brachial plexus palsies; the supinator branch is probably the best choice in this regard.

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