Surgical nerve transfers are used to efficiently treat peripheral nerve injuries, neuromas, phantom limb pain, or improve bionic prosthetic control. Commonly, one donor nerve is transferred to one target muscle. However, the transfer of multiple nerves onto a single target muscle may increase the number of muscle signals for myoelectric prosthetic control and facilitate the treatment of multiple neuromas. Currently, no experimental models are available. This study describes a novel experimental model to investigate the neurophysiological effects of peripheral double nerve transfers to a common target muscle. In 62 male Sprague-Dawley rats, the ulnar nerve of the antebrachium alone (n=30) or together with the anterior interosseus nerve (n=32) was transferred to reinnervate the long head of the biceps brachii. Before neurotization, the motor branch to the biceps' long head was transected at the motor entry point. Twelve weeks after surgery, muscle response to neurotomy, behavioral testing, retrograde labeling, and structural analyses were performed to assess reinnervation. These analyses indicated that all nerves successfully reinnervated the target muscle. No aberrant reinnervation was observed by the originally innervating nerve. Our observations suggest a minimal burden for the animal with no signs of functional deficit in daily activities or auto-mutilation in both procedures. Furthermore, standard neurophysiological analyses for nerve and muscle regeneration were applicable. This newly developed nerve transfer model allows for the reliable and standardized investigation of neural and functional changes following the transfer of multiple donor nerves to one target muscle.
- Muscle, Skeletal/physiology
- Nerve Regeneration/physiology
- Nerve Transfer/methods
- Peripheral Nerve Injuries/surgery
- Peripheral Nerves/surgery
- Rats, Sprague-Dawley
- Ulnar Nerve/surgery