Study design: Descriptive anatomy. OBJECTIVE.: To describe the anatomy associated with the extensive transmuscular paraspinal approach required to perform multiple intercosto-lumbar neurotizations.
Summary of background data: Neurotization of lumbar roots using lower intercostal nerves is a potential method of treating neurologic deficits after spinal cord injury. It appeared to us that the paraspinal splitting approach was potentially an optimal method to perform intercostal nerve harvesting, rerouting, and intercosto-lumbar neurotizations.
Methods: Ninth, 10th, and 11th intercostal nerve harvesting and rerouting down to L2, L3, and L4 roots were performed on 50 cadavers. The descriptive anatomy and topographic landmarks are reported.
Results: The mean total length of intercostal nerve harvested was 17.96 (range, 10-27) cm for the 9th intercostal nerve, 17.14 cm (range, 10-20) for the 10th intercostal nerve and 15.94 cm (range, 10-25) for the 11th intercostal nerve. The length of harvested nerve was not correlated to the size of the trunk. The length of harvested nerve was sufficient to perform lumbar roots neurotizations in the 300 cases of nerve harvesting.
Conclusion: Multiple lumbar roots neurotizations with lower intercostal nerves already have been proposed by other authors. In this strategy, the use of the spinal cord and intercostal nerves above the spinal cord lesion avoids the axonal regrowth required via the injured central nervous system. Rerouting intercostals nerves down to the lumbar roots at their exit from the intervertebral foraminae is less invasive that the same procedure performed down to the vertebral canal at the level of the cauda equina as we used in previous protocols. Our anatomic study confirms the advantage of the paraspinal sacrospinalis splitting approach in multiple intercosto-lumbar neurotizations. The approach is quick and easy and allows a good exposure of the nerve roots at the thoracic and lumbar levels. The L2, L3, and L4 roots could be satisfactorily neurotized with this procedure.