Open Access  |  Review
Plast Aesthet Res 2015;2:195-201. 10.4103/2347-9264.160887

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Views: 176803 |  Downloads: 4228 |  Cited:  7

Department of Hand Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE41345 Gothenburg, Sweden.

Correspondence Address: Dr. Paolo Sassu, Department of Hand Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, SE41345 Gothenburg, Sweden. E-mail:

This article belongs to the Special Issue Peripheral Nerve Repair and Regeneration
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License (, which allows others to remix, tweak and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.


Nerve transfer surgery, also referred to neurotization, developed in the mid 1800s with the use of animal models, and was later applied in the treatment of brachial plexus injuries. Neurotization is based on the concept that following a proximal nerve lesion with a poor prognosis, expendable motor or sensory nerves can be re-directed in proximity of a specific target, whether a muscle or skin territory, in order to obtain faster re-innervation. Thanks to the contribution of several authors including Oberlin, MacKinnon and many others, the field of nerve transfer surgery has expanded in treatment of not only the brachial plexus, but also the arm, forearm and hand. This article reviews the recent literature regarding current concepts in nerve transfer surgery, including similarities to and differences from tendon transfer surgery. Moreover, indications and surgical techniques are illustrated for different types of nerve injury affecting the extrinsic and intrinsic musculature of the hand as well as sensory function.


Brachial plexus, nerve transfer, peripheral nerve


The concept of nerve transfer developed almost two hundred years ago when Flourens[1] reported his first experiments with the brachial plexus of a rooster. He demonstrated that proximal nerve stumps could be coupled to different target nerves, obtaining not only re-innervation, but also a function that was dependent on the new motor nerve.[2] This report stimulated a number of animal studies under the label of "nerve crossing",[3] followed by a series of clinical cases in the early twentieth century showing the feasibility of suturing a proximal nerve stump to a distal one with a different target organ.[4-7]

Using this concept, several options have been developed over the years, in which expendable donor nerves or their fascicles are re-directed to recipient nerves in close proximity to their target muscle or skin territory. The technique was initially used in brachial plexus injuries and has slowly become a routine procedure for peripheral nerve lesions where poor functional results are expected due to the distance between the site of injury and the innervated muscles.

General concepts in nerve transfers

Brachial plexus injuries and peripheral nerve lesions at or proximal to the elbow result in denervation and loss of sensation and may not recover due to the long distance between the lesion and the target organ. Even when treated early, the axon regeneration process does not always have the capacity to reach the proper muscle before irreversible changes have taken place. The primary aim of nerve transfers is to promote re-innervation in proximity to a certain target organ (whether a muscle or a skin territory) following a proximal nerve injury.[8-11]

Axonal regeneration progresses at a rate of 1-2 mm/day.[12] Because muscle fibers undergo irreversible changes after 12-18 months of denervation,[13] it is imperative that treatment be undertaken promptly for functional recovery.[14] Very proximal lesions in the arm or brachial plexus, even when treated within 3 months following injury, carry a high risk of incurring irreversible muscle atrophy before the regenerating axons can reach the motor end plates. Transferring a motor nerve that is close to the motor end plate shortens the distance for axon regeneration and consequently the time for muscle re-innervation. In this respect, nerve transfer promotes a functional rather than an anatomical reconstruction.[15] This is the main concept in nerve transfer surgery. Other equally important concepts include the use of tension-free sutures directly between the donor and recipient nerves without the use of nerve grafts to ensure that the maximal number of regenerating axons is directed toward the end organ. By working at a location distal to the zone of injury, a pristine, vascular field can be used, which will not interfere with nerve regeneration.[9-11]

Although sensory receptors have a wider margin for recovery even many months after the injury, earlier repairs clearly lead to better outcomes.[14,16]

Postoperative rehabilitation is facilitated when a nerve with synergistic function is chosen for re-innervation.[8,17-19] To ensure a tension-free transfer, it is essential to dissect the donor nerve as distal as possible and the recipient as proximal as possible. When antagonistic nerves have been used, the learning process is more difficult and the patient may require additional time to understand how to activate the injured muscles.[20] The process of re-adaptation is still unclear, but a certain grade of brain plasticity is involved in learning how to utilize a muscle that is now supplied by a different motor nerve.[21-24]


Nerve transfer surgery has evolved greatly over the last two decades due to a better knowledge of intraneural anatomy and a better understanding of functional re-innervation rather than anatomical reconstruction. As a result, in select cases with high-level nerve lesions, it is advisable to address the injury in terms of functional recovery rather than pure anatomic restoration.

In the absence of a proximal nerve stump, nerve transfer provides an alternative for re-innervation of the target muscle. This is often the case in brachial plexus injuries with root avulsion. Another indication is a very proximal nerve lesion or delayed presentation, where muscle atrophy most likely will have occurred prior to functional re-innervation. In cases in which surgical exploration is difficult secondary to a previous extensive injury, distal nerve transfer, will shorten the time to re-innervation and avoid nerve repair in a highly fibrotic bed.[9,15,8,25]

The presence of a nerve defect itself represents a good indication for nerve transfer, first because there is no need to harvest a nerve graft from another site, and second because comparable if not better results with nerve transfer rather than long nerve grafts have been reported.[14,26-28]

As a general rule, instead of focusing on anatomic reconstitution of the damaged nerve(s), the goal becomes functional reconstruction with re-innervation of specific muscle(s) and skin territory. A specific movement will still be performed by the original muscle, without the need to re-route different tendons or muscles, which might in turn lose some of their original power.

Radial nerve deficits


The radial nerve can suffer from a multitude of injuries, with humeral fracture being the most common.[29-31] Other causes include brachial plexus injuries, neuritis, direct trauma and compression. Radial nerve paralysis has been commonly treated by either neurolysis, nerve graft or tendon transfers with successful results.[32] Nevertheless, some authors have reported the potential impairment of pronation following the transfer of the pronator teres (PT), and unnatural coordination after tendon transfer, especially while performing a full hand grip.[33,34] In 2002, Lowe et al.[34] described the possibility of transferring branches of the median nerve to recover wrist and finger extension in radial nerve palsy, alone or in conjunction with tendon transfers. Since then several reports have elucidated the technical feasibility and the possible advantages.[35-38]

Nerve transfers


Currently, priority is given to re-innervation of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) for wrist extension and the posterior interosseous nerve (PIN) for finger and thumb extension. The branch to the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) muscle (median nerve) is rotated to the ECRB and branches to the palmaris longus (PL) and flexor carpi radialis (FCR) (median nerve) are coaptated to the PIN [Figure 1].

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 1. Radial nerve deficit. Transfer of the motor branch to flexor digitorum superficialis muscle to the extensor carpi radialis brevis, and the motor branches to flexor carpi radialis muscle and palmaris longus muscle, to the PIN. PIN: Posterior interosseous nerve, ECRB: Extensor carpi radialis brevis, FCR: Flexor carpi radialis, FDS: Flexor digitorum superficialis, PL: Palmaris longus

Schematic description

A lazy “S” incision is made on the volar surface from the cubital fossa down to the mid-forearm. The lacertus fibrosus is divided, and the radial vascular bundle, and the median nerve are identified. Distally, step lengthening of the superficial part of the PT allows better medial retraction of the muscle so as to visualize the branches of the median nerve to the FDS and FCR. Lateral retraction of the brachioradialis exposes the superficial radial nerve, the PIN, and the ECRB branches. Once both the donor branches to the FDS and FCR and the recipient branches are identified, they are isolated as needed in order to divide them following the rule of “donor distal/recipient proximal” described by Brown and Mackinnon,[15] without tension on the nerve coaptation.


The lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve (LACN) runs close to the sensory radial branch in the distal forearm and matches it very well in size. It is expendable, and its use does not create any significant morbidity along its territory.

Median nerve deficits


In high-level injuries of the median nerve both extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the forearm and hand, as well as the sensation on the volar-radial part of the hand, are affected and need restoration. In low-level injuries thumb, opposition and sensation in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and radial half of the 4th fingers are addressed for reconstruction. The most common donor is the radial nerve and its branches to the supinator and ECRB. In case of isolated injuries to the anterior interosseous nerve (AIN), intra-median nerve transfers have been described using intact branches of the median nerve which are redirected.

Motor nerve transfers

Thumb opposition

When available the AIN (branch to the pronator quadratus)is isolated and transferred to the motor branch of the thenar muscles [Figure 2]. The donor and recipient match well in size, but transfer requires a nerve graft which leads to the inevitable loss of some of the regenerating axons. In high-level injuries, ulnar nerve to median (third lumbrical motor branch)[39] or radial nerve to median (motor branch to the extensor digiti minimi and extensor carpi ulnaris) via interposition graft have been described, but results are uncertain and thus common tendon transfers might be considered instead.[15]

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 2. Distal median nerve deficit. Transfer of the terminal branch of the anterior interosseous nerve to the motor branch to the thenar muscles, using an interpositional graft. AIN: Anterior interosseous nerve

Schematic description

A carpal tunnel incision is made to expose the median nerve and its motor branch at the level of the wrist. The latter is gently isolated proximally as far as its fibers can be distinguished. The AIN and its branch to the pronator quadratus are then isolated with intramuscular dissection in order to obtain the maximal possible length. A nerve graft is usually necessary for a tension-free closure. Although the number of axons matches well, the need for a nerve graft downgrades the level of outgrowth and, therefore, the actual potential for re-innervation.

Pronator function

The pronator teres function can be impaired in high median nerve injuries or secondary to an isolated deficit.[40] In the first case the radial nerve, and specifically the motor branch to the ECRB is isolated and re-oriented to the branch, which innervates the PT.[41] The surgical approach is similar to that described for radial nerve palsy when the opposite transfer is planned. In case of isolated PT deficiency, an intra-median nerve transfer is planned using one of the branches to the FDS[40] sutured to the PT motor branch.

Extrinsic muscle function

In high-level median nerve injury several extrinsic muscles such as PT, FCR, FDS, flexor pollicis longus, the radial component of the FDP, and PQ are denervated. Two main problems are faced: first, the lack of flexion in the thumb, index and the long fingers, and second, the loss of pronation.[15] The first option is to re-direct the motor branch to the ECRB towards the AIN, in a similar fashion described above for radial nerve palsy, but in a reverse direction [Figure 3]. If there is a significant discrepancy in size, the branch to the supinator can also be included. In this case the AIN needs to be traced proximally in order to reach comfortably the motor branch to the supinator.[15,41,42]

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 3. High median nerve deficit. Transfer of the motor branch to extensor carpi radialis brevis to the anterior interosseous nerve. ECRB: Extensor carpi radialis brevis, PIN: Posterior interosseous nerve, AIN: Anterior interosseous nerve, FCR: Flexor carpi radialis, FDS: Flexor digitorum superficialis, PL: Palmaris longus

Schematic description: the AIN is identified in the forearm. A lazy-S incision is made over the volar aspect of the mid-forearm, and the lacertus fibrosus is divided. The tendon of the superficial part of the PT is lengthened to allow the muscle to be retracted, and the median nerve exposed. The AIN lies on the radial side of the median nerve and does not always course as a distinct fascicle. A longitudinal vessel often demarcates it from the rest of the median nerve. Once isolated, it should be traced proximally to obtain enough length for a tension-free suture. The motor branch to the ECRB is then identified under the brachioradialis muscle, coursing close to the sensory branch of the radial nerve. This is followed as distal as possible and then rotated toward the AIN. In case of a size mismatch, the radial nerve is isolated proximally in order to include the motor branch to the supinator, which in turn will reach the AIN if appropriate proximal dissection is completed.

In the event of isolated AIN palsy, an intra-median nerve transfer can be considered with redirection of branches to the FDS or PL/FCR to the AIN.

In lower brachial plexus injuries where both the median and ulnar nerve have been compromised, the AIN can be reinnervated by using the branch to brachialis muscle[43] or the branch to the brachioradialis muscle,[44] after both the donor and recipient are isolated for the necessary length at the elbow or a slightly proximal level.

Sensory nerve transfers

Priority is given to the ulnar side of the thumb and the radial side of the index finger in order to re-establish functional pinch and grip. Several donors can be considered depending upon their availability. The first choice includes the digital nerves to the fourth web space, innervated by the ulnar nerve[15][Figure 4]. An alternative is the dorsal sensory branch from the radial nerve to the thumb.[45,46] Finally, as illustrated by Ross et al.[47] in upper plexus lesions, the sensory components to the third web space come from a distinct fascicle, which can be isolated proximally in the median nerve and utilized as a donor to the thumb and index finger.

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 4. Sensory median nerve deficit. Transfer of the sensory branches from the ulnar nerve to the fourth web space to the sensory branches of the first web space

Schematic description

A carpal tunnel incision is made and prolonged distally in a zig-zag fashion toward both the first and the fourth interdigital spaces. Deep to the superficial arterial arch and the digital arteries, the common digital nerves to the ulnar side of the ring finger and the radial side of the little finger are isolated, traced proximally, and divided as distally as possible. The digital nerves to the first web space are then identified and isolated proximally in order to obtain enough length to be sutured to the donor nerves. The remainder of the sensory median nerve can then be divided proximally and coupled in an end-to-side fashion to the ulnar digital nerve of the 5th finger in order to restore protective sensation.

Ulnar nerve deficits


High-level nerve injuries lead to the loss of both grip and pinch strength in the hand, and sensation in the little finger and the ulnar side of the ring finger. Even following an early repair it is difficult to obtain a functional re-innervation of the intrinsic musculature, a fact which caused some authors to question the utility of surgical intervention at the site of lesion.[48-51] Tendon transfers can avoid chronic deformities, but do not always allow fluid motion and adequate strength. Alternatively, the median nerve can provide motor and sensory branches in the forearm and hand that compensate for the ulnar nerve deficiency.[52-55] In the event of a combined ulnar and median nerve injury, motor branches from the radial nerve are selected as donor axons.


If the median nerve is intact, the distal part of the AIN can re-innervate the distal motor component of the ulnar nerve [Figures 5-7]. Brown et al.[56] performed the first case in 1991 and since then several authors have described successful results. Recently, Sukegawa et al.[57] provided technical clarification regarding identification and separation of the motor branch of the ulnar nerve, the number of fascicles in the AIN and the motor ulnar nerve, and the shortest path required for the AIN to reach its recipient target. The motor component of the ulnar nerve can be reached through a Taleisnik incision[58] which extends from the interthenar region proximal to the distal forearm. First, the ulnar nerve is isolated at the Guyon’s canal and the motor branch is identified during its course toward the hook of the hamate. Once the point of divergence is identified, the motor nerve is followed proximally by blunt dissection. As reported by Sukegawa et al.,[57] this is usually possible for about 33 mm. Sharp dissection is then required for an average of 19 mm. A longitudinal vascular bundle usually separates the motor from the sensory part of the ulnar nerve. Through the forearm incision, the AIN is identified while entering the pronator quadratus. The dissection is carried as distal as possible into the muscle, and the AIN is then passed dorsal to the FDP in order to reach the motor branch of the ulnar nerve.[56] The AIN has at this level approximately 506 axons, whereas the ulnar motor nerve 1523 axons.[56] The transfer is not synergistic and recovery is generally suboptimal, but it is sufficient to prevent clawing of the ulnar digits.

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 5. Ulnar nerve deficit. Transfer of the terminal branch of the anterior interosseous nerve to the motor branch of the ulnar nerve. AIN: anterior interosseous nerve

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 6. Ulnar nerve deficit. (a) Preoperative drawing showing the course of the motor branch of the ulnar nerve, and the terminal branch of the anterior interosseous nerve into the pronator quadrates; (b) the ulnar nerve and its motor branch after extensive neurolysis

Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications

Figure 7. Terminal branch of the anterior interosseous nerve in the pronator quadratus muscle

In combined ulnar and median nerve injuries, motor branches from the radial nerve to the extensor digiti minimi and extensor carpi ulnaris originating from the PIN can be used to re-innervate the motor ulnar nerve. Coaptation is achieved by the use of an interpositional nerve graft from the mid-proximal forearm to the wrist. Although intrinsic muscle recover is not complete, it may be sufficient to prevent claw deformity of the fingers.[59] As an alternative, branches to abductor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis, and extensor indicis proprius can be re-oriented without the need for an interpositional nerve graft.[60]


In cases of ulnar nerve palsy, the functioning median nerve has been used by several authors with various methods to provide sensation to the ulnar nerve territory. Battiston and Lanzetta[53] described the use of the palmar sensory branch of the median nerve to the sensory component of the ulnar nerve. Brown et al.[56] used the sensory component to the third web space as a donor to the fourth web space, coupled in an end-to-end fashion, while the dorsal sensory branch of the ulnar nerve was sutured to the sensory part of the median nerve in an end-to-side manner after performing an epineural window.

In 2011, Flores[61] described a similar technique but instead of an end-to-end anastomosis, he sutured the sensory component of the ulnar nerve in an end-to-side manner to the sensory nerve of the third web space without an epineural window. The author noted that at this level the epineural layer is thin and that the microsurgical sutures represent a sufficient trauma to stimulate the necessary sprouting into the donor’s nerve. Oberlin et al.[62] used the LACN as a donor in the forearm, coapted to the dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve by an interpositional nerve graft harvested from the sural nerve. In his two cases, he was able to avoid donor site morbidity when using donor sensory nerves from the median nerve territory in the hand. Ruchelsman et al.[63] revised this technique by use of a longer dissection of the LACN in the forearm and suturing it without an inter positional graft in an end-to-side fashion to the ulnar nerve before the take-off of the sensory branch.


The numerous advantages offered by transposing a functional nerve stump in proximity to a target muscle or skin territory have created new and exciting alternatives for the management of nerve injuries, particularly those occurring far proximal in the arm or the brachial plexus. Some of these options have been described only recently, and some only as case reports. In order to have a better understanding and use of such promising field, blinded randomized studies comparing traditional tendon transfers to nerve transfers are required.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conficts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1. Flourens P. Experiences on the repair and healing of the spinal cord and peripheral nerve injuries. Ann Sci Naturelles 1828;13:113-22.

2. Meals RA, Nelissen RG. The origin and meaning of "neurotization". J Hand Surg Am 1995;20:144-6.

3. Cunningham RH. The restoration of coordinated, volitional movement after nerve "crossing". Am J Physiol 1898;1:239-54.

4. Ballance CA, Ballance HA, Stewart P. Remarks on the operative treatment of chronic facial palsy of peripheral origin. Br Med J 1903;1:1009-13.

5. Körte W. A case of engrafting of the facial nerve into the hypoglossal nerve. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 1903;29:293-5.

6. Harris W, Low VW. On the importance of accurate muscular analysisin lesions of the brachial plexus; and the treatment of Erb's palsy and infantile paralysis of the upper extremity by cross-union of the nerve roots. Br Med J 1903;24:1035-8.

7. Harris RI. The treatment of irreparable nerve injuries. Can Med Assoc J 1921;11:833-41.

8. Boyd KU, Nimigan AS, Mackinnon SE. Nerve reconstruction in the hand and upper extremity. Clin Plast Surg 2011;38:643-60.

9. Lee SK, Wolfe SW. Nerve transfers for the upper extremity: new horizons in nerve reconstruction. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2012;20:506-17.

10. Mackinnon SE, Colbert SH. Nerve transfers in the hand and upper extremity surgery. Tech Hand Up Extrem Surg 2008;12:20-33.

11. Garg R, Merrell GA, Hillstrom HJ, Wolfe SW. Comparison of nerve transfers and nerve grafting for traumatic upper plexus palsy: a systematic review and analysis. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2011;93:819-29.

12. Pfister BJ, Gordon T, Loverde JR, Kochar AS, Mackinnon SE, Cullen DK. Mackinnon SE, Cullen DK. Biomedical engineering strategies for peripheral nerve repair: surgical applications, state of the art, and future challenges. Crit Rev Biomed Eng 2011;39:81-124.

13. Seddon H. Surgical Disorders of the Peripheral Nerves. 2nd ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1973. p. 164.

14. Samii A, Carvalho GA, Samii M. Brachial plexus injury: factors affecting functional outcome in spinal accessory nerve transfer for the restoration of elbow flexion. J Neurosurg 2003;98:307-12.

15. Brown JM, Mackinnon SE. Nerve transfers in the forearm and hand. Hand Clin 2008;24:319-40.

16. Lee SK, Wolfe SW. Peripheral nerve injury and repair. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2000;8:243-52.

17. Dvali L, Mackinnon S. Nerve repair, grafting, and nerve transfers. Clin Plast Surg 2003;30:203-21.

18. Mackinnon SE, Novak CB, Myckatyn TM, Tung TH. Results of reinnervation of the biceps and brachialis muscles with a double fascicular transfer for elbow flexion. J Hand Surg Am 2005;30:978-85.

19. Mackinnon SE, Novak CB. Nerve transfers. New options for reconstruction following nerve injury. Hand Clin 1999;15:643-66.

20. Pet MA, Ray WZ, Yee A, Mackinnon SE. Nerve transfer to the triceps after brachial plexus injury: report of four cases. J Hand Surg Am 2011;36:398-405.

21. Anastakis DJ, Malessy MJ, Chen R, Davis KD, Mikulis D. Cortical plasticity following nerve transfer in the upper extremity. Hand Clin 2008;24:425-44.

22. Anastakis DJ, Chen R, Davis KD, Mikulis D. Cortical plasticity following upper extremity injury and reconstruction. Clin Plast Surg 2005;32:617-34.

23. Davis KD, Taylor KS, Anastakis DJ. Nerve injury triggers changes in the brain. Neuroscientist 2011;17:407-22.

24. Taylor KS, Anastakis DJ, Davis KD. Cutting your nerve changes your brain. Brain 2009;132:3122-33.

25. Tung TH, Mackinnon SE. Nerve transfers: indications, techniques, and outcomes. J Hand Surg Am 2010;35:332-41.

26. Chuang DC, Epstein MD, Yeh MC, Wei FC. Functional restoration of elbow flexion in brachial plexus injuries: results in 167 patients (excluding obstetric brachial plexus injury). J Hand Surg Am 1993;18:285-91.

27. Socolovsky M, Di Masi G, Battaglia D. Use of long autologous nerve grafts in brachial plexus reconstruction: factors that affect the outcome. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2011;153:2231-40.

28. Wolfe SW, Johnsen PH, Lee SK, Feinberg JH. Long-nerve grafts and nerve transfers demonstrate comparable outcomes for axillary nerve injuries. J Hand Surg Am 2014;39:1351-7.

29. Foster RJ, Swiontkowski MF, Bach AW, Sack JT. Radial nerve palsy caused by open humeral shaft fractures. J Hand Surg Am 1993;18:121-4.

30. Bumbasirevic M, Lesic A, Bumbasirevic V, Cobeljic G, Milosevic I, Atkinson HD. The management of humeral shaft fractures with associated radial nerve palsy: a review of 117 cases. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 2010;130:519-22.

31. Bishop J, Ring D. Management of radial nerve palsy associated with humeral shaft fracture: a decision analysis model. J Hand Surg Am 2009;34:991-6.

32. Green DP. Radial nerve palsy. In: Green DP, Hotchkiss RN, Pederson WC, Wolfe SW, editors. Green's Operative Hand Surgery. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2005. pp. 1113-29.

33. Bowden RE, Napier EJ. The assessment of hand function after peripheral nerve injury. J Bone Joint Surg Br 1961;43:481-92.

34. Lowe JB 3rd, Sen SK, Mackinnon SE. Current approach to radial nerve paralysis. Plast Reconstr Surg 2002;110:1099-113.

35. Humphreys DB, Mackinnon SE. Nerve transfers. Oper Tech Plast Reconstr Surg 2002;9:89-99.

36. Lowe JB 3rd, Tung TR, Mackinnon SE. New surgical option for radial nerve paralysis. Plast Reconstr Surg 2002;110:836-43.

37. Mackinnon SE, Roque B, Tung TH. Median to radial nerve transfer for treatment of radial nerve palsy. Case report. J Neurosurg 2007;107:666-71.

38. Tung TH, Weber RV, Mackinnon SE. Nerve transfers for the upper and lower extremities. Oper Tech Orthop 2004;14:213-22.

39. Schultz RJ, Aiache A. An operation to restore opposition of the thumb by nerve transfer. Arch Surg 1972;105:777-9.

40. Tung TH, Mackinnon SE. Flexor digitorum superficialis nerve transfer to restore pronation: two case reports and anatomic study. J Hand Surg Am 2001;26:1065-72.

41. Hsiao EC, Fox IK, Tung TH, MacKinnon SE. Motor nerve transfer to restore extrinsic median nerve function: case report. Hand (N Y) 2009;4:92-7.

42. Murphy RK, Ray WZ, Mackinnon SE. Repair of a median nerve transaction injury using multiple nerve transfers, with long-term functional recovery. J Neurosurg 2012;117:886-9.

43. Gu Y, Wang H, Zhang L, Zhang G, Zhao X, Chen L. Transfer of brachialis branch of musculocutaneous nerve for finger flexion: anatomic study and case report. Microsurgery 2004;24:358-62.

44. García-López A, Sebastian P, Martinez F, Perea D. Transfer of the nerve to the brachioradialis muscle to the anterior interosseous nerve for treatment for lower brachial plexus lesions: case report. J Hand Surg Am 2011;36:394-7.

45. Rapp E, Lallemand S, Ehrler S, Buch N, Foucher G. Restoration of sensation over the contact surfaces of the thumb-index pinch grip using the terminal branches of the superficial branch of the radial nerve. Chir Main 1999;18:179-83.

46. Bertelli JA, Ghizoni MF. Very distal sensory nerve transfers in high median nerve lesions. J Hand Surg Am 2011;36:387-93.

47. Ross D, Mackinnon SE, Chang YL. Intraneural anatomy of the median nerve provides "third web space" donor nerve graft. J Reconstr Microsurg 1992;8:225-32.

48. Pfaeffle HJ, Waitayawinyu T, Trumble TE. Ulnar nerve laceration and repair. Hand Clin 2007;23:291-9.

49. Vastamäki M, Kallio PK, Solonen KA. The results of secondary microsurgical repair of ulnar nerve injury. J Hand Surg Br 1993;18:323-6.

50. Sammer DM, Chung KC. Tendon transfers: part II. Transfers for ulnar nerve palsy and median nerve palsy. Plast Reconstr Surg 2009;124:e212-21.

51. Gaul JS, Jr. Intrinsic motor recovery: a long term study of ulnar repairs. J Hand Surg Am 1982;7:502-8.

52. Wang Y, Zhu S. Transfer of a branch of the anterior interosseous nerve to the motor branch of the median nerve and ulnar nerve. Chin Med J (Engl) 1997;110:216-9.

53. Battiston B, Lanzetta M. Reconstruction of high ulnar nerve lesions by distal double median to ulnar nerve transfer. J Hand Surg Am 1999;24:1185-91.

54. Haase SC, Chung KC. Anterior interosseous nerve transfer to the motor branch of the ulnar nerve for high ulnar nerve injuries. Ann Plast Surg 2002;49:285-90.

55. Novak CB, Mackinnon SE. Distal anterior interosseous nerve transfer to the deep motor branch of the ulnar nerve for reconstruction of high ulnar nerve injuries. J Reconstr Microsurg 2002;18:459-64.

56. Brown JM, Yee A, Mackinnon SE. Distal median to ulnar nerve transfers to restore ulnar motor and sensory function within the hand: technical nuances. Neurosurgery 2009;65:966-78.

57. Sukegawa K, Kuniyoshi K, Suzuki T, Ogawa Y, Okamoto S, Shibayama M, Kobayashi T, Takahashi K. Ananatomical study of transfer of the anterior interosseous nerve for the treatment of proximal ulnar nerve injuries. Bone Joint J 2014;96:789-94.

58. Taleisnik J. The palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve and the approach to the carpal tunnel. An anatomical study. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1973;55:1212-7.

59. Tung TH, Barbour JR, Gontre G, Daliwal G, Mackinnon SE. Transfer of the extensor digiti minimi and extensor carpi ulnaris branches of the posterior interosseous nerve to restore intrinsic hand function: case report and anatomic study. J Hand Surg Am 2012;38:98-103.

60. Phillips BZ, Franco MJ, Yee A, Tung TH, Mackinnon SE, Fox IK. Direct radial to ulnar nerve transfer to restore intrinsic muscle function in combinedproximal median and ulnar nerve injury: case report and surgical technique. J Hand Surg Am 2014;39:1358-62.

61. Flores LP. Distal anterior interosseous nerve transfer to the deep ulnar nerve and end-to-side suture of the superficial ulnar nerve to the third common palmar digital nerve for treatment of high ulnar nerve injuries: experience in five cases. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 2011;69:519-24.

62. Oberlin C, Teboul F, Severin S, Beaulieu JY. Transfer of the lateral cutaneous nerve of the forearm to the dorsal branch of the ulnar nerve, for providing sensation on the ulnar aspect of the hand. Plast Reconstr Surg 2003;112:1498-500.

63. Ruchelsman DE, Price AE, Valencia H, Ramos LE, Grossman JA. Sensory restoration by lateral antebrachial cutaneous to ulnar nerve transfer in children with global brachial plexus injuries. Hand (N Y) 2010;5:370-3.

Cite This Article

OAE Style

Sassu P, Libberecht K, Nilsson A. Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications. Plast Aesthet Res 2015;2:195-201.

AMA Style

Sassu P, Libberecht K, Nilsson A. Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications. Plastic and Aesthetic Research. 2015; 2: 195-201.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sassu, Paolo, Katleen Libberecht, Anders Nilsson. 2015. "Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications" Plastic and Aesthetic Research. 2: 195-201.

ACS Style

Sassu, P.; Libberecht K.; Nilsson A. Nerve transfers of the forearm and hand: a review of current indications. Plast. Aesthet. Res. 2015, 2, 195-201.



Open Access Review
Therapeutic strategies for peripheral nerve injuries: FK506 and electrostimulation
Available online: 11 Oct 2023
Open Access Review
Imaging traumatic facial nerve injuries: a narrative review of current strategies and future directions for cranial nerve imaging
Available online: 12 Sep 2023
Open Access Review
Functional muscle transfer for restoration of elbow flexion: a review
Available online: 6 Jul 2023
Open Access Review
Review of current reconstructive approaches for pan-brachial plexus injuries
Available online: 2 Jul 2023
Open Access Review
The treatment of nerve defects
Available online: 15 May 2023
Open Access Review
Understanding the management of brachial plexus birth palsy and the roles of nerve transfers
Available online: 27 Apr 2023
Open Access Review
Lower extremity nerve transfers: an under-appreciated reconstructive approach
Available online: 18 Apr 2023
Open Access Review
The neurobiology of targeted muscle reinnervation for post-amputation pain
Available online: 30 Mar 2023
Open Access Review
Advances in lower extremity peripheral nerve surgery
Available online: 6 Mar 2023
Open Access Review
Pre-operative electrodiagnostic studies and intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring: power and pitfalls
Available online: 28 Jan 2023


Comments must be written in English. Spam, offensive content, impersonation, and private information will not be permitted. If any comment is reported and identified as inappropriate content by OAE staff, the comment will be removed without notice. If you have any queries or need any help, please contact us at

Cite This Article 55 clicks
Commentary 0 comments
Like This Article 11 likes
Share This Article
Scan the QR code for reading!
See Updates
Hot Topics
Targeted muscle reinnervation | Lymphedema | Lower extremity | Hand reconstruction | Breast cancer-related lymphedema | Facial skin cancer | Cleft lip and palate | Breast reconstruction | Facial trauma | Gender confirmation surgery |
Plastic and Aesthetic Research
ISSN 2349-6150 (Online)   2347-9264 (Print)


All published articles are preserved here permanently:


All published articles are preserved here permanently: