Neurosurgical Review

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 321–329 | Cite as

The medial cord to musculocutaneous (MCMc) nerve transfer: a new method to reanimate elbow flexion after C5-C6-C7-(C8) avulsive injuries of the brachial plexus—technique and results

  • S. FerraresiEmail author
  • D. Garozzo
  • E. Basso
  • L. Maistrello
  • F. Lucchin
  • P. Di Pasquale
Original Article


The aim of this paper is to report on our ample experience with the medial cord to musculocutaneous (MCMc) nerve transfer. The MCMc technique is a new type of neurotization which is able to reanimate the elbow flexion in multilevel avulsive injuries of the brachial plexus provided that at least the T1 root is intact. A series of 180 consecutive patients, divided into four classes according to the quality of hand function, is available for a long-term follow-up after brachial plexus surgery. The patients enrolled for the study have in common a brachial plexus palsy showing multiple cervical root avulsive injuries at two (C5-C6), three (C5-C6-C7) and four (C5-C6-C7-C8) levels. The reinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve is obtained via an end-to-end transfer from two donor fascicles located in the medial cord. The selected fascicles are those directed principally to the flexor carpi radialis, ulnaris and, to a lesser degree, the flexor digitorum profundus. Under normal anatomic conditions, they are located in the medial cord, and their site corresponds to the inverted V-shaped bifurcation between the internal contribution of the median nerve and the ulnar nerve. The technique has no failure and no complications when the hand shows a normal wrist and finger flexion and a normal intrinsic function. In case of suboptimal conditions of the hand, the technique has proved technically more challenging, but still with 67 % satisfactory results. In the four-root avulsive injuries, however, this method shows its limitations and an alternative strategy should be preferred when possible. EMG analysis shows a reinnervation in both the biceps and the brachialis muscles, explaining the high quality of the observed results. Moreover, this technique theoretically offers the possibility of a “second attempt” at a more distal level in case of failure of the first surgery. This procedure is quick, safe, extremely effective and easily feasible by an experienced plexus surgeon. The ideal candidate is a patient harbouring a C5-C6 avulsive injury of the upper brachial plexus with a normally functioning hand.


Brachial plexus injury Musculocutaneous nerve Nerve transfer Cervical root avulsion Brachial plexus repair Biceps muscle Brachial plexus 





Flexor carpi ulnaris


Flexor carpi radialis


Common extensor of the fingers



We are indebted to Mrs Mirella Wright for English support in the process of reviewing the manuscript.

Supplementary material

Video 1

MCMC transfer: surgical technique (MPG 35076 kb)

Video 2

Normal hand function: excellent result on biceps endurance (MPG 9512 kb)

Video 3

Normal hand function: excellent result on the biceps even without recruiting the wrist and finger flexors (MPG 10688 kb)

Video 4

Good result on the biceps in spite of a wrist drop in C5-C6-C7 avulsive injury (MPG 28020 kb)

Video 5

Good recovery of the biceps in spite of a suboptimal hand. The hand retained its strength (MPG 26984 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Ferraresi
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Garozzo
    • 1
  • E. Basso
    • 1
  • L. Maistrello
    • 1
  • F. Lucchin
    • 1
  • P. Di Pasquale
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryOspedale S. Maria della MisericordiaRovigoItaly

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