Pulsus Journal of Surgical Research

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Habib Ovais1*, Hafeez Adil2, Mukhtar Beenish3 and Rashid Abdul4
1 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, King Fahd Medical City, Riyadh, KSA
2 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar, India
3 Darul Aloom University, Riyadh, KSA
4 Neurosurgery, Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar, India
*Correspondence: Habib Ovais, Assistant Consultant, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, King Fahd Medical City, Riyadh, KSA, Tel: +966539417395, Email: [email protected]

Received Date: Mar 25, 2018 / Accepted Date: Mar 26, 2018 / Published Date: Apr 18, 2018

Citation: Ovais H, Adil H, Mukhtar B, et al.. Peripheral nerve injuries- an analysis of 75 cases. Pulsus J Surg Res. 2018;2(1):34-39.

This open-access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (CC BY-NC) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits reuse, distribution and reproduction of the article, provided that the original work is properly cited and the reuse is restricted to noncommercial purposes. For commercial reuse, contact [email protected]


Objectives: The study focuses on demographic patterns of various patterns of peripheral nerve injury patients in a tertiary hospital.

Methods: Seventy five patients of peripheral nerve trauma were studied over 2 years (June 2006 to September 2008). Most of the patients were subjected to early proper exploration of the wounds and direct nerve repair. Nerve conduction studies were performed in late cases. Standard microsurgical nerve repair was performed in majority. Recovery patterns were noted at regular intervals on follow up examinations.

Results: Most of the patients were young students with an average age of 26.4 years. Glass was the main agent inflicting the injury (58.7%) and wrist injuries were common in our group (62.8%). Median nerve and Ulnar nerves were the most frequently injured nerves in our patients. Epineural microsurgical nerve repair technique was applied to most of our patients. On follow up examinations, excellent recovery patterns were noted in clean lacerated nerves which were repaired early.

Conclusion: Peripheral nerve injuries are quite common and challenging to a plastic surgeon. They are mostly overlooked upon in trivial traumatic injuries and subsequently lead to loss of various functional modalities. Proper early exploration in glass cut injuries along the volar aspect of the wrist and use of standard microsurgical nerve repair procedures, yields excellent results in this group of patient population.


Glass; epineural repair; highest scale


Peripheral nerve trauma has been quite common in the civilian practice and the surgeons have had to manage severe extremity trauma with underlying neural damage. These injuries are on an increase presently due to modernization and undeclared warfare. Despite advances in surgical technique, peripheral nerve function after injury is dependent on many factors that elude the surgeon. The process of wallerian degeneration and peripheral nerve regeneration is complex, inter-related and influenced by multifactorial determinants. The age of patient, the level of injury and perhaps even the flexibility of the patient’s psyche seem to be the major determinants of how well the nerve regenerates in the clinical setting.

Glass has been the major culprit in inflicting serious neural damage and a small looking skin wound often disguises the extensive nature of the injuries beneath. A thorough exploration of the wound under general anesthesia is a prerequisite to identify the underlying nerve injury. The more recent innovations in repair are the use of delicate technique, the process of operative magnification, the use of smaller sutures and avoidance of excessive tension across the repaired site [1-13].


Seventy five patients with peripheral nerve trauma, were admitted to the Plastic and Reconstructive unit of Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, and were studied between June 2006 and September 2008 (Figures 1 and 2).


Figure 1: Demonstrating inflicting agent.


Figure 2: Showing frequency of reconstructive technique.

The average age of the patients was 26.4 (range 7-65 years). Sixty four patients (85.3%) were men and eleven were women (14.7%).Thirty three patients were students (44%), who suffered a sharp wrist cut. Glass was the main agent inflicting the injury (58.7%) and wrist injuries were common in our group (62.8%). Most of the patients reported on the day when the injury took place (Figures 3 and 4). Majority of the patients had absent all sensory modalities (98.7%) and motor deficit due to loss of adductor function of the thumb and wrist drop was noted in 53.3% of the patients. The patients were explored under general anesthesia and cut ends of the nerve were identified. For some of the patients who reported late, in addition to the clinical examination, Nerve conduction velocity and Electromyography also aided in the preoperative diagnosis of the injured nerve. Median nerve (33%) and Ulnar nerve (32%) were the most frequently injured nerves in our patients. Epineural microsurgical repair was carried out in majority of our patients under loop magnification with nylon 8-0 sutures. Three patients had a significant gap between the divided ends of the nerve and these were repaired using sural nerve cable grafts. Postoperatively the patients were assessed for the restoration of sensory modalities and the degree of motor recovery on subsequent follow-ups (Figures 5 and 6).


Figure 3: Median nerve injury due to wrist crush.


Figure 4: Exposed cut ends of the nerve on exploration.


Figure 5: Epineural repair completed.


Figure 6: Delayed post op showing good hand function.


The results were evaluated as per the highest scale adopted by British Medical Council grading system for sensory and motor recovery (Table 1) (Figures 7 and 8).

Motor grade Level of recovery
M0 No recovery
M1 Perceptible contraction in proximal muscles
M2 Perceptible contraction in proximal and distal muscles
M3 Contraction possible against gravity
M4 Contraction possible against resistance
M5 Full recovery in all muscles
Sensory grade Level of recovery
S1 No recovery
S1 Recovery of deep cutaneous sensibility
S1+ Recovery of superficial pain and sensibility
S2 Recovery of superficial pain and some touch
S2+ S2 recovery with hypersensitivity
S3 Recovery of pain and touch without hypersensitivity
S3+ S3+ recovery with localization and some two-point discrimination
S4 Complete recovery with normal two-point discrimination

Table 1: The British Medical Research Council’s rating system for motor and sensory recovery.


Figure 7: Trophic ulcers on fingers due to median nerve injury.


Figure 8: Intraoperative nerve repair picture.

In our patients , at 27 months of follow up, we achieved, S3+ sensory recovery in 6.3% of the patients, S3 in 18.8% ; S2+ in 25%, S2 in 31.3% and S1 in 18.8% of the patients. Selma et al. observed at mean follow up of 5 years ; S4 sensory recovery in 35.7% of their patients , S3+ in 28.5%, S3 in 4.2%, S2+ in 7.14%, S2 in 10.7% and S1 in 3.5% of their patients. Daoutis et al. observed at mean follow up of 26 months, results for median nerve repair were: S4 recovery in 8.5%, S3+ in 42.5%, S3 in 36.5%, S3 in 39%, S2 in 12% of their patients. In terms of motor recovery, M5 motor restoration was noted in 62.5% of the patients, M4 in 18.8%, M3 in 12.5% and M1 in 6.3% of the patients. Daoutis et al. reported M4 recovery in 51% of their patients of median nerve injury, M3 in 17% and M2 in 31.9% at 26 months of follow up. For ulnar nerve injuries, their motor recovery was M4 in 70.7%, M3 in 14.6% and M2 in 14.6% (Figures 9-12). When we compared the results with the world literature we found that we had excellent results in 50% of the patients, good in 37.5% and fair in 12.5% of our patients [10-15].


Figure 9: Delayed post op, demonstrating well healed hand.


Figure 10: Early Claw hand deformity right hand.


Figure 11: Cable grafting for segmental loss of ulnar nerve.


Figure 12: Delayed post op. photograph showing improvement in claw hand deformity.


Microsurgical nerve repair has got revolutionized in the recent past following considerations given to the level and extent of injury, technical skill and strategy employed by the surgeon and the physiologic or pathologic milieu of the patient and the injury. Suspected open nerve injuries, in which an open wound is accompanied by an anatomically appropriate neurologic deficit, mandate timely but not emergent exploration. However, if the nerve is intact on exploration, management proceeds according to the protocol for closed injuries. Proximal v/s distal injuries also play a role in predicting the outcome. In our series of patients, the experience in terms of outcome was comparable with the worldwide literature taking all the above criteria into consideration (Figures 13 and 14).


Figure 13: Showing overall sensory recovery.


Figure 14: Showing overall motor recovery.

Glass cut, the main offending agent in our patients, inflicts substantial damage to the underlying nerves beneath the skin wound (Figures 15 and 16).


Figure 15: Showing final outcome of nerve repair.


Figure 16: Showing final outcome in relation to the nerve involved.

Furthermore, our group of patients were mostly students, therefore, and were probably not experienced in handling the causative agent properly. The skin wounds harbour severe underlying nerve injuries and early exploration of the wound aids in identifying the damage. This too has been supported by the literature whereby the patients have been explored under general anesthesia to look for underlying nerve damage [8-10].

Epineural microsurgical repair offers good results in an emergency setting where the time factor has to born in mind. Use of magnifying loop, micro instruments and micro sutures have a definite role in the outcome (Table 2). Whenever the defect is >5cm or when excessive traction is required to approximate the divided ends of the nerve, grafting becomes necessary. In our patients we used sural nerve in the form of cable grafts to bridge the gaps as also has been reported [8,10,11].

  Results at 6 month FU Results at 1 year FU Results at 2 years FU
Excellent Good Fair Poor Total Excellent Good Fair Total Excellent Good Fair Poor Total
Median nerve injury n 0 0 14 11 25 0 15 10 25 2 0 1 0 3
% 0 0 34 64.7 34.2 0 28 55.6 34.2 25 0 50 0 19
Ulnar nerve injury n 0 11 12 0 23 1 22 0 23 3 3 0 0 6
% 0 73 29 0 31.5 100 41 0 31.5 38 50 0 0 38
Radial nerve injury n 0 2 5 0 7 0 6 1 7 1 0 1 0 2
% 0 13 12 0 9.6 0 11 5.6 9.6 13 0 50 0 13
Ulnar and median nerve injury n 0 0 6 5 11 0 56 5 11 2 2 0 0 4
% 0 0 15 29.4 15 0 11 27.7 15 25 33 0 0 25
Ulnar and radial nerve injury n 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
% 0 0 2 0 1.4 0 1.9 0 1.4 0 0 0 0 0
Ulnar, median and radial nerve injury n 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
% 0 0 0 11.7 2.7 0 0 11.1 1.4 0 0 0 0 0
Digital nerve injury n 0 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
% 0 0 5 0 2.7 0 3.7 0 2.7 0 0 0 0 0
Posterior tibial nerve injury n 0 2 0 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 1 0 0 1
% 0 13 0 0 2.7 0 3.7 0 2.7 0 17 0 0 6
Total n 0 15 41 17 73 1 54 18 73 8 6 2 0 16
% 0 21 56 23.3 100 1.4 74 24.7 100 50 38 13 0 ##
p value 0.00 (sig) 0.005 (sig) 0.928 (NS)

Table 2: Final outcome of peripheral nerve injury patients.

We used the Highest scale for the assessment of the recovery. We were able to achieve upto S3+ and S3 sensory recovery and upto M5 and M4 motor recovery in those patients who completed 27 months of the followup. Selma et al report upto S4 and S3+ recovery in their patients, but their follow-up was for a longer time than ours. Further, our patients are still recovering and better results are expected as they are being continuously followed up [15-20].


We thus concluded that for small looking glass cut wounds, the injury must not be underestimated from the description of the wound only and thorough exploration should be done to identify the underlying peripheral nerve injury. Timely address should be made to repair the damaged nerve making full use of the surgical skill, instrumentation and magnification. Further the epineural nerve repair for these clean cut nerve lacerations gives excellent results.