Selective motor hyperreinnervation using motor rootlet transfer: an experimental study in rat brachial plexus

J Neurosurg. 1997 Jul;87(1):79-84. doi: 10.3171/jns.1997.87.1.0079.


Misdirection of sensory fibers into motor pathways is, in part, responsible for the poor results obtained after peripheral nerve repair. After avulsion of the C-5 root in rats, the authors connected a C-4 ventral rootlet to the musculocutaneous nerve by means of a sural nerve graft. In this way, they were able to increase the number of regenerating motor fibers and avoid growth of sensory fibers into the nerve grafts. Functional recovery was evaluated electrophysiologically and histologically. The origin of the axons that reinnervated the nerve graft was analyzed by means of morphological studies including retrograde labeling procedures. Motor neurons survived and regenerated after the rootlet transfer and there was no functional impairment. Many neurons were retrograde labeled in the ventral horn and widespread biceps muscle reinnervation was demonstrated with recovery of nearly normal electrophysiological properties. Motor hyperreinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was observed. This high degree of reinnervation in a long (40-mm) graft was attributed to the good chance that a muscle fiber can be reinnervated by a motor fiber when the number of regenerating motor neurons is increased and when competitive sensory fibers are excluded from reinnervation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / innervation
  • Brachial Plexus / surgery*
  • Female
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle Denervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Neck
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / surgery*
  • Sural Nerve / physiopathology
  • Sural Nerve / transplantation*