Reconstruction of elbow flexion with a modified Oberlin procedure: A comparative study

Zinon T. Kokkalis, Aikaterini Bavelou, Efstratios Papanikos, Petros Konofaos, Dimitrios G. Efstathopoulos, Panayotis N. Soucacos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: In upper brachial plexus injuries (C5-C6-C7), selective nerve transfers appear as a favourable technique. For this purpose, transfer of an ulnar nerve fascicle to the biceps motor branch (Oberlin's procedure) is often used. In this paper we present our modified Oberlin technique, as well as a comparison of this method with the classic Oberlin procedure. Materials and Methods: We present two groups of patients that where operated by two different surgeons. The first group, consisting of 16 patients was treated with the classic Oberlin procedure. The second group included 5 patients treated with a modified Oberlin procedure, where two fascicles from the ulnar nerve were transferred to both the motor branch of the biceps and the motor branch of the brachialis muscles. Results: In the last follow-up of the 16 patients from the first group with the classic Oberlin procedure, 15 patients (93.75%) had Medical Research Council (MRC) grade of biceps strength 4 and 1 patient (6.25%) had MRC grade 3, whereas in the group where the modified Oberlin procedure was used the muscle strength was very durable with 4 out of 5 the patients reached MRC grade of 4+ and one MRC grade of 4, and with a mean elbow strength at 5.4 kg (3–8 kg). No sensitivity or motor problems were encountered on the ulnar territories for both groups. Conclusion: With the modified Oberlin technique, the median nerve is reserved and both elbow flexors are innervated. The results of this technique compare favourably with those of other methods. Thus, we propose using the double fascicle transfer from the ulnar nerve to both elbow flexors in order to restore a strong elbow flexion in patients with upper brachial plexus injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S71-S76
StatePublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Elbow flexion
  • Modified
  • Nerve transfer
  • Oberlin procedure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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