Variability in surgical technique for brachioradialis tendon transfer

Murray WM, Hentz VR, Fridén J, Lieber RL. Variability in surgical technique for brachioradialis tendon transfer. J Bone Joint Surg 88A:2009-2016, 2006.

BACKGROUND: Transfer of the tendon of the brachioradialis muscle to the tendon of the flexor pollicis longus restores lateral pinch function after cervical spinal cord injury. However, the outcomes of the procedure are unpredictable, and the reasons for this are not understood. The purpose of this study was to document the degree of variability observed in the performance of this tendon transfer.

METHODS: The surgical technique used for the brachioradialis tendon transfer was assessed in two ways. First, the surgical attachment length of the brachioradialis was quantified, after transfer to the flexor pollicis longus, with use of intraoperative laser diffraction to measure muscle sarcomere length in eleven individuals (twelve limbs) with tetraplegia. Second, ten surgeons who regularly performed this procedure were surveyed regarding their tensioning preferences. Using a biomechanical model of the upper extremity, we investigated theoretically the effect of different surgical approaches on the active muscle-force-generating capacity of the transferred brachioradialis in functionally relevant elbow, wrist, and hand postures.

RESULTS: The average sarcomere length (and standard deviation) of the transferred brachioradialis was 3.5 +/- 0.3 mum. That length was significantly correlated to the in situ sarcomere length (r(2) = 0.53, p <0.05).>