Supercharge nerve transfer to enhance motor recovery: A laboratory study

Scott J. Farber, Simone W. Glaus, Amy M. Moore, Daniel A. Hunter, Susan E. Mackinnon, Philip J. Johnson

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72 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the ability of a supercharge end-to-side (SETS) nerve transfer to augment the effect of regenerating native axons in an incomplete rodent sciatic nerve injury model. Methods: Fifty-four Lewis rats were randomized to 3 groups. The first group was an incomplete recovery model (IRM) of the tibial nerve complemented with an SETS transfer from the peroneal nerve (SETS-IRM). The IRM consisted of tibial nerve transection and immediate repair using a 10-mm fresh tibial isograft to provide some, but incomplete, nerve recovery. The 2 control groups were IRM alone and SETS alone. Nerve histomorphometry, electron microscopy, retrograde labeling, and muscle force testing were performed. Results: Histomorphometry of the distal tibial nerve showed significantly increased myelinated axonal counts in the SETS-IRM group compared with the IRM and SETS groups at 5 and 8 weeks. Retrograde labeling at 8 weeks confirmed increased motoneuron counts in the SETS-IRM group. Functional recovery at 8 weeks showed a significant increase in muscle-specific force in the SETS-IRM group compared with the IRM group. Conclusions: An SETS transfer enhanced recovery from an incomplete nerve injury as determined by histomorphometry, motoneuron labeling within the spinal cord, and muscle force measurements. Clinical relevance: An SETS distal nerve transfer may be useful in nerve injuries with incomplete regeneration such as proximal Sunderland II- or III-degree injuries, in which long regeneration distance yields prolonged time to muscle reinnervation and suboptimal functional recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-477
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Nerve regeneration
  • nerve transfer
  • neurorrhaphy
  • peripheral nerve
  • supercharge end-to-side


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