Outcomes of Tibial Nerve Repair and Transfer: A Structured Evidence-Based Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Stuti P. Garg, Abbas M. Hassan, Anooj A. Patel, Megan M. Perez, Jenna R. Stoehr, Suvethavarshini Ketheeswaran, Ava G. Chappell, Robert D. Galiano, Jason H. Ko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although nerve transfer and repair are well-established for treatment of nerve injury in the upper extremity, there are no established parameters for when or which treatment modalities to utilize for tibial nerve injuries. The objective of our study is to conduct a systematic review of the effectiveness of end-to-end repair, neurolysis, nerve grafting, and nerve transfer in improving motor function after tibial nerve injury. PubMed, Cochrane, Medline, and Embase libraries were queried according to the PRISMA guidelines for articles that present functional outcomes after tibial nerve injury in humans treated with nerve transfer or repair. The final selection included Nineteen studies with 677 patients treated with neurolysis (373), grafting (178), end-to-end repair (90), and nerve transfer (30), from 1985 to 2018. The mean age of all patients was 27.0 ± 10.8 years, with a mean preoperative interval of 7.4 ± 10.5 months, and follow-up period of 82.9 ± 25.4 months. The mean graft repair length for nerve transfer and grafting patients was 10.0 ± 5.8 cm, and the most common donor nerve was the sural nerve. The most common mechanism of injury was gunshot wound, and the mean MRC of all patients was 3.7 ± 0.6. Good outcomes were defined as MRC ≥ 3. End-to-end repair treatment had the greatest number of good outcomes, followed by neurolysis. Patients with preoperative intervals less than 7 months were more likely to have good outcomes than those greater than 7 months. Patients with sport injuries had the highest percentage of good outcomes in contrast to patients with transections and who were in MVAs. We found no statistically significant difference in good outcomes between the use of sural and peroneal donor nerve grafts, nor between age, graft length, and MRC score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1280-1289
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Foot and Ankle Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • 2
  • end-to-end
  • grafting
  • neurolysis
  • neurorrhaphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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