Future Perspectives in the Management of Nerve Injuries


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Abstract

AimThe author presents a solicited “white paper” outlining her perspective on the role of nerve transfers in the management of nerve injuries.MethodsPubMed/MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were evaluated to compare nerve graft and nerve transfer. An evaluation of the scientific literature by review of index articles was also performed to compare the number of overall clinical publications of nerve repair, nerve graft, and nerve transfer. Finally, a survey regarding the prevalence of nerve transfer surgery was administrated to the World Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery (WSRM) results.ResultsBoth nerve graft and transfer can generate functional results and the relative success of graft versus transfer depended on the function to be restored and the specific transfers used. Beginning in the early 1990s, there has been a rapid increase from baseline of nerve transfer publications such that clinical nerve transfer publication now exceeds those of nerve repair or nerve graft. Sixty-two responses were received from WSRM membership. These surgeons reported their frequency of “usually or always using nerve transfers for repairing brachial plexus injuries as 68%, radial nerves as 27%, median as 25%, and ulnar as 33%. They reported using nerve transfers” sometimes for brachial plexus 18%, radial nerve 30%, median nerve 34%, ulnar nerve 35%.ConclusionTaken together this evidence suggests that nerve transfers do offer an alternative technique along with tendon transfers, nerve repair, and nerve grafts.

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