Selective Fascicular Coaptation of Free Functioning Gracilis Transfer for Restoration of Independent Thumb and Finger Flexion Following Volkmann Ischemic Contracture


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Abstract

Children are prone to developing moderate to severe Volkmann ischemic contracture following a supracondylar fracture of the humerus or its treatment. Given the variable extent of forearm muscle damage, tendon transfers and tenodeses are often unavailable. To address these contractures, intensive hand therapy and a free functioning muscle transfer are required. Despite functional improvement following free muscle transplantation, reconstructed patients with severe Volkmann ischemic contracture tend to have persistent difficulty with fine motor activities owing to the losses of intrinsic muscle function and independence of thumb and finger flexion. The authors demonstrate how selective coaptation of separate fascicular territories of the gracilis nerve branches to the branches of the anterior interosseous nerve that innervate flexor pollicis longus and flexor digitorum profundus may be performed to establish a degree of independent thumb and finger flexion with a single free gracilis transfer. This technical refinement as well as its long-term outcomes in a series of three patients is presented.

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