Anatomical variations of intercostobrachial nerve: A potential candidate for neurotization after traumatic median nerve injury?

Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2022 Dec;29(1):22-29. doi: 10.14744/tjtes.2022.68622.


Background: This study focused on the anatomical characteristics and variations of intercostobrachial (ICBN) nerve and median nerve to investigate the possible use of ICBN in restoration of sensory damage of hand after traumatic median nerve injury and to evaluate the feasibility of ICBN neurotization to median nerve.

Methods: Variations of ICBN were noted in 16 axillary region dissections of eight cadavers. Measurements for ICBN's suitability in terms of neurotization to brachial plexus were done with millimetric devices. The distance of ICBN to the distal end of the lateral (LCMN) and medial (MCMN) contributions of the median nerve and the diameters of ICBN, LCMN, and MCMN were measured.

Results: Fifteen axillary dissections exhibited ICBN, whereas it was absent on the left side of one of the cadavers. The mean diameter of ICBN at its origin was 2.0±0.7 mm and the mean diameter of ICBN at its coaptation point was 3.1±0.9 mm. The mean diameter of the LCMN was 3.9±2.0 mm, the mean diameter of MCMN was 3.5±0.9 mm. The length of ICBN was found to be adequate at both 45 and 90° of shoulder abduction to be extended to both LCMN and MCMN. The diameters of LCMN and MCMN were not significantly correlated with the diameter of ICBN both at origin and at coaptation point (LCMN: p=0.55-0.63 and MCMN: p=0.89-0.85). There is no significant difference between the diameter of LCMN and the diameter of ICBN at its coaptation point (p=0.168) and also between the diameter of MCMN and the diameter of ICBN at its coaptation point (p=0.232).

Conclusion: All ICBNs dissected showed adequate length to reach the lateral and medial contribution of the median nerve directly. The ICBN could be a feasible candidate since its diameter was close to LCMN and MCMN according to the descriptive and inferential statistics.

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Plexus* / anatomy & histology
  • Brachial Plexus* / injuries
  • Brachial Plexus* / surgery
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Intercostal Nerves / anatomy & histology
  • Median Nerve / surgery
  • Nerve Transfer*