Radial Nerve Palsy: Nerve Transfer Versus Tendon Transfer to Restore Function

J. Megan M. Patterson, Stephanie A. Russo, Madi El-Haj, Christine B. Novak, Susan E. Mackinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Radial nerve injuries cause profound disability, and a variety of reconstruction options exist. This study aimed to compare outcomes of tendon transfers versus nerve transfers for the management of isolated radial nerve injuries. Methods: A retrospective chart review of 30 patients with isolated radial nerve injuries treated with tendon transfers and 16 patients managed with nerve transfers was performed. Fifteen of the 16 patients treated with nerve transfer had concomitant pronator teres to extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon transfer for wrist extension. Preoperative and postoperative strength data, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) scores, and quality-of-life (QOL) scores were compared before and after surgery and compared between groups. Results: For the nerve transfer group, patients were significantly younger, time from injury to surgery was significantly shorter, and follow-up time was significantly longer. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in grip and pinch strength after surgery. Postoperative grip strength was significantly higher in the nerve transfer group. Postoperative pinch strength did not differ between groups. Similarly, both groups showed an improvement in DASH and QOL scores after surgery with no significant differences between the 2 groups. Conclusions: The nerve transfer group demonstrated greater grip strength, but both groups had improved pain, function, and satisfaction postoperatively. Patients who present early and can tolerate longer time to functional recovery would be optimal candidates for nerve transfers. Both tendon transfers and nerve transfers are good options for patients with radial nerve palsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1082-1089
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • diagnosis
  • nerve
  • nerve injury
  • nerve reconstruction
  • outcomes
  • research and health outcomes
  • specialty
  • surgery
  • tendon


Dive into the research topics of 'Radial Nerve Palsy: Nerve Transfer Versus Tendon Transfer to Restore Function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this