Following a Surgical Paradigm Shift Through the Adoption of Nerve Transfers Among Board-Eligible and Practicing Plastic Surgeons

Kaamya Varagur, Lauren Jacobson, Robert Teixeira, J. Megan M. Patterson, Gary B. Skolnick, Susan E. Mackinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nerve transfers represent a new paradigm in the treatment of nerve injuries. Their current level of adoption among surgeons is unknown. This study evaluates the incidence of nerve transfers on case logs of board-eligible plastic surgeons over the past 14 years and surveys practicing nerve surgeons regarding their use of this technique. Methods: We queried the American Board of Plastic Surgery case log database for all nerve reconstruction Current Procedural Terminology codes from 2008 to 2021 and assessed trends and relationships between geographic region, examination year, and nerve transfer use. We surveyed nerve surgery professional societies to assess trends in practice, compared with a 2017 survey. Results: A total of 1959 nerve reconstruction cases were logged by 738 candidates from 2008 to 2021. Twelve percent of cases included nerve transfers. The proportion of nerve transfer codes (Z = −11.57; P <.0001) and the proportion of candidates performing nerve transfers (Z = −9.21, P <.0001) increased over the study period. Nerve transfers were associated with geographic region (χ2 = 25.826, P =.0002), with most cases performed in the Midwest (26.4%). A higher proportion of practicing nerve surgeons reported performing nerve transfers in this survey than in our 2017 survey (χ2 = 16.7, P <.001). Conclusions: There has been an increase in nerve transfers logged in the past 14 years by board-eligible plastic surgeons, as well as increased use among currently practicing nerve surgeons. Although nerve transfer use is increasing among both plastic and orthopedic surgeons, a greater proportion of nerve reconstructions include nerve transfers in the plastic surgery cohort.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • diagnosis
  • end to end
  • end to side
  • nerve
  • nerve injury
  • nerve reconstruction
  • nerve transfer
  • specialty
  • surgery


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