Nerve transfer versus nerve graft for reconstruction of high ulnar nerve injuries

Asser A. Sallam, Mohamed S. El-Deeb, Mohamed A. Imam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To assess the efficacy of nerve transfer versus nerve grafting in restoring motor and sensory hand function in patients with complete, isolated high ulnar nerve injuries.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed, at a minimum 2 years of follow-up, of 52 patients suffering complete, isolated high ulnar nerve injury between January 2006 and June 2013 in one specialized hand surgery unit. Twenty-four patients underwent motor and sensory nerve transfers (NT group). Twenty-eight patients underwent sural nerve grafting (NG group). Motor recovery, return of sensibility and complications were examined as outcome measures. The Medical Research Council scale was applied to evaluate sensory and motor recovery. Grip and pinch strengths of the hand were measured.

Results: Twenty of 24 patients (83.33%) in the NT group regained M3 grade or greater for the adductor pollicis, the abductor digiti minimi, and the medial 2 lumbricals and interossei, compared with only 16 of 28 patients (57.14%) in the NG group. Means for percentage recovery of grip strengths compared with the other healthy hand were significantly higher for the NT group than the NG group. Sensory recovery of S3 or greater was achieved in more than half of each group with no significant difference between groups.

Conclusions: Nerve transfer is favored over nerve grafting in managing high ulnar nerve injuries because of better improvement of motor power and better restoration of grip functions of the hand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date3 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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