Expanding traditional tendon-based techniques with #nerve #transfers for the #restoration of upper #limb #function in #tetraplegia: a prospective case series (Lancet, abstract)

[Source: The Lancet, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Expanding traditional tendon-based techniques with nerve transfers for the restoration of upper limb function in tetraplegia: a prospective case series

Natasha van Zyl, MBBS, Bridget Hill, PhD, Catherine Cooper, BAppSc, Jodie Hahn, BAppSc, Prof Mary P Galea, PhD

Published: July 04, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31143-2

 

Summary

Background

Loss of upper extremity function after cervical spinal cord injury greatly affects independence, including social, vocational, and community engagement. Nerve transfer surgery offers an exciting new option for the reanimation of upper limb function in tetraplegia. The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of nerve transfer surgery used for the reanimation of upper limb function in tetraplegia.

Methods

In this prospective case series, we consecutively recruited people of any age with early (<18 months post-injury) cervical spinal cord injury of motor level C5 and below, who had been referred to a single centre for upper extremity reanimation and were deemed suitable for nerve transfer. All participants underwent single or multiple nerve transfers in one or both upper limbs, sometimes combined with tendon transfers, for restoration of elbow extension, grasp, pinch, and hand opening. Participants were assessed at 12 months and 24 months post-surgery. Primary outcome measures were the action research arm test (ARAT), grasp release test (GRT), and spinal cord independence measure (SCIM).

Findings

Between April 14, 2014, and Nov 22, 2018, we recruited 16 participants (27 limbs) with traumatic spinal cord injury, among whom 59 nerve transfers were done. In ten participants (12 limbs), nerve transfers were combined with tendon transfers. 24-month follow-up data were unavailable for three patients (five limbs). At 24 months, significant improvements from baseline in median ARAT total score (34·0 [IQR 24·0–38·3] at 24 months vs 16·5 [12·0–22·0] at baseline, p<0·0001) and GRT total score (125·2 [65·1–154·4] vs 35·0 [21·0–52·3], p<0·0001) were observed. Mean total SCIM score and mobility in the room and toilet SCIM score improved by more than the minimal detectable change and the minimal clinically important difference, and the mean self-care SCIM score improved by more than the minimal detectable change between baseline and 24 months. Median Medical Research Council strength grades were 3 (IQR 2–3) for triceps and 4 (IQR 4–4) for digital extensor muscles after 24 months. Mean grasp strength at 24 months was 3·2 kg (SD 1·5) in participants who underwent distal nerve transfers (n=5), 2·8 kg (3·2) in those who had proximal nerve transfers (n=9), and 3·9 kg (2·4) in those who had tendon transfers (n=8). There were six adverse events related to the surgery, none of which had any ongoing functional consequences.

Interpretation

Early nerve transfer surgery is a safe and effective addition to surgical techniques for upper limb reanimation in tetraplegia. Nerve transfers can lead to significant functional improvement and can be successfully combined with tendon transfers to maximise functional benefits.

Funding

Institute for Safety, Compensation, and Recovery Research (Australia).

Keywords: Neurology; Surgery; Tetraplegia.

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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.