The rabbit brachial plexus as a model for nerve injury and repair Part 1: Anatomic study of the biceps and triceps innervation

Kathleen M. Kollitz, Guilherme Giusti, Patricia F. Friedrich, Allen T. Bishop, Alexander Y. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Animal models can be helpful in evaluating new surgical strategies for brachial plexus reconstruction. While several groups have already used the rabbit brachial plexus to model injury, reports conflict in anatomic detail and do not identify a nerve-muscle pair to measure motor function recovery after reconstruction. The purpose of the current study is to describe the innervations of the biceps and triceps muscles in rabbits, which are both amenable to study in brachial plexus injury models. Materials and Methods: Thirteen rabbits weighing 2–2.5 kg were anesthetized. Six rabbits were sacrificed and dissected using loupe and microscope magnification to understand the overall morphology of the brachial plexus. Seven rabbits underwent electrophysiologic investigation. A bipolar nerve stimulator was used to systematically stimulate the roots, trunks and divisions, and nerve branches of the rabbit brachial plexus and compound muscle action potential was used to record muscle response. Nerve length and width measurements were not recorded. Results: Roots contributing to the brachial plexus were C5, C6, C7, C8, and T1. In contrast to other anatomical studies, T2 did not contribute to the brachial plexus. The triceps was innervated by the radial nerve, which received contributions from C6 (1.6 mA), C7 (1.9 mA), C8, and T1 (12.2 mA).The biceps had dual innervation (proximally and distally). The proximal branch received contributions from C6 (3.5 mA) and C7 (5mA). The distal portion was innervated by a branch from the median nerve, which received innervation from C6, C7, C8, and T1. Conclusions: The overall structure of rabbit brachial plexus is described and innervation of the biceps and triceps is described in detail. This anatomic investigation will form the basis of a future brachial plexus model of injury and repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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