Free functioning gracilis transfer for traumatic brachial plexus injuries in children

Harvey Chim, Michelle F. Kircher, Robert J. Spinner, Allen T. Bishop, Alexander Y. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose To report our technique and experience with use of free functioning muscle transfer (FFMT) in reconstruction of traumatic brachial plexus injuries (BPIs) in children as well as its complications and outcomes. Methods Twelve patients with complete BPI underwent FFMT for reconstruction between 2000 and 2012. Eight had single-stage gracilis transfer for restoration of elbow flexion, and 4 children had double free gracilis muscle transfer for restoration of elbow flexion and prehension. Mean duration of follow-up was 27 months (range, 14e55 mo). Results Eleven out of 12 patients achieved at least M3 elbow flexion, with 8 patients achieving M4 or greater elbow flexion. Eight of 12 patients had nerve transfers to the musculocutaneous nerve. Mean active elbow arc of motion was 79° (range, 30°e130°). Two patients aged 8 and 11 years with open growth plates developed elbow joint contractures, which limited range of motion, but they recovered M4 and M5 elbow flexion strength. Conclusions FFMTs can result in good outcomes following reconstruction for traumatic BPI. The use of FFMT should be carefully considered in children prior to skeletal maturity because of the risk of the development of an elbow flexion contracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1959-1966
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Brachial plexus injury
  • gracilis transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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