Femoral nerve palsy can cause loss in quadriceps function and knee extension disability, which may lead to severe lower extremity impairment. The obturator nerve trunk transfer in the pelvic, the obturator nerve mortal branches transfer out of the pelvic, along with nerve graft, was introduced years ago to restore femoral nerve function. However, the outcomes of these procedures have never been compared. The aims of this study were to give our experiences in surgical reconstruction for femoral nerve injury and to compare the outcomes of different approaches.
Nine patients with complete femoral nerve injury have been enrolled in this study between March 2012 and July 2016. All patients were followed up for at least 2 years after surgical intervention for sural nerve graft (n = 3), obturator trunk transfer in the pelvic (n = 2), or obturator nerve mortal branches transfer out of the pelvic (n = 4).
All patients gained satisfactory quadriceps Medical Research Council grade (M3–M4+) after more than 2 years of follow-up. The sural nerve graft led to the earliest recovery on average, followed by obturator nerve mortal branches transfer in the thigh level and then obturator nerve trunk transfer in the pelvic. The functional outcomes, demonstrated by Lower Extremity Functional Scale and Femoral Nerve Motor Function Scale scores, also showed that the sural nerve graft was the best on average, followed by obturator nerve trunk transfer in the pelvic and then obturator nerve mortal branches transfer in the thigh level.
Our results indicate that all these 3 procedures are safe and reliable ways to reconstruct femoral nerve function and can be applied to patients with different kinds of injuries. The sural nerve graft should be considered in the first place and the obturator nerve transfer at different level (trunk transfer in the pelvic or mortal branches transfer out of the pelvic) can be performed as the alternative.