Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 279–286 | Cite as

Transferring of femoral nerve motor branches for high-level sciatic nerve injury: a cadaver feasibility study

  • Depeng Meng
  • Huihao Chen
  • Yaofa Lin
  • Haodong LinEmail author
  • Chunlin Hou
Original Article - Peripheral Nerves
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Peripheral Nerves



Sciatic nerve injuries cause significant disability. We propose here a novel reconstructive procedure of transferring the motor branches of the femoral nerve as donor nerves to reconstruct both the peroneal and tibial nerve function as a novel approach to treat high sciatic nerve injury.


The autopsies of donor nerves (vastus lateralis nerve branch (VLN), vastus medialis nerve branch (VMN), saphenous nerve (SAN)) and respective recipient nerves (deep peroneal nerve branch (DPN), medial gastrocnemius nerve branch (MGN), sural nerve (SN)) were conducted in six fresh-frozen lower limbs. The distance between the origin or bifurcation points of the nerves to the head of fibula and the diameter of the end at the coaptation site were measured. The feasibility of tensionless direct suturing or grafting between the donor nerves and the recipient was evaluated. Finally, the nerve end at the coaptation site was harvested for observation with toluidine blue staining and nerve fiber count.


The mean diameter of the VMN, VLN, MGN, DPN, SAN, and SN nerves were 1.5 ± 0.1, 1.4 ± 0.1, 1.3 ± 0.1, 2.3 ± 0.1, 2.1 ± 0.3, and 1.3 ± 0.2 mm, respectively. Histological observation showed that the abovementioned six nerve bundles had a respective nerve fiber number of 392 ± 27, 205 ± 520, 219 ± 67, 394 ± 50, 308 ± 77, and 335 ± 49. A total of 5/6 specimens needed grafting for a length ranging from 5 to 15 cm to bridge the VMN–MGN, 6/6 needed a graft length of 10–20 cm for VLN–DPN bridging, and 2/6 needed a graft length of 0–4 cm for SAN–SN bridging.


The study demonstrated the feasibility of the transferring femoral nerve branches to sciatic nerve branches to restore the function for sciatic injury.


Nerve transfer Sciatic nerve injury Femoral nerve Anatomic feasibility 



vastus medialis nerve branch


vastus lateralis nerve branch


medial gastrocnemius nerve branch


lateral gastrocnemius nerve branch


deep peroneal nerve branch


superficial peroneal nerve branch


saphenous nerve


sural nerve


medial sural nerve


lateral sural nerve


tibial nerve


common peroneal nerve


medical research council


Funding information

This study was funded by the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (grant number 81572146), the Program of Outstanding Medical Talent of Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau (grant number 2017BR034), the Shuguang Program of Shanghai Education Development Foundation and Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (grant number 15SG34), and the Project of Research Doctor of Changzheng Hospital (grant number 201712).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human specimens were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Depeng Meng
    • 1
  • Huihao Chen
    • 1
  • Yaofa Lin
    • 1
  • Haodong Lin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chunlin Hou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedics, Changzheng HospitalSecond Military Medical UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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