The Medial Antebrachial Cutaneous Nerve Is a Low-Morbidity Alternative to the Standard Sural Nerve Autograft

Stahs Pripotnev, Sai L. Pinni, Suzanne Zhou, Gary Skolnick, Susan E. Mackinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nerve interposition grafting is an important technique in nerve reconstructive surgery that is used when a primary repair is not feasible without significant tension. This study sought to evaluate the long-term morbidity of the medial antebrachial cutaneous (MABC) nerve as an alternative donor nerve in comparison with sural nerve harvest. Methods: A single surgeon and institution retrospective chart review was performed to identify all patients who underwent nerve autografting using the sural and MABC as donor nerves between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2019. Surveys assessed overall patient satisfaction with surgery, as well as donor and recipient site morbidity, satisfaction, pain, numbness, and cold sensitivity. Results: Of the 73 patients contacted, 54 agreed to participate, and 43 of 73 (58.9%) ultimately completed the survey: 28 MABC (65.1%) and 15 sural (34.9%). There were no significant differences between the sural and MABC groups in overall satisfaction with surgery, donor and recipient site satisfaction, pain, cold sensitivity, and effect on quality of life. Even though 66.7% of sural donor sites and 75% of MABC donor sites had residual numbness, the effect this had on quality of life was very low (2 and 3, respectively). Conclusion: The MABC is a safe alternative to the traditional sural nerve autograft. A small subset of patients undergoing nerve autograft harvest will experience long-term morbidity in the form of pain. Conversely, the more common presence of numbness is not reported as bothersome.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • autograft
  • donor site
  • MABC
  • nerve graft
  • nerve injury
  • sural


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