Tendon Transfer


Tendon transfers may also be considered to restore motor loss after a nerve injury. In this case, a nearby relatively expendable functioning tendon is transferred to a dysfunctional tendon to restore a motion. Tendon transfers can be performed at any time post nerve injury as they do not have the same limitations as nerves with irreversible atrophy occurring sometime after injury. Therefore, we sometimes consider tendon transfers when patients are seen outside the normal time window to intervene with nerve grafting or nerve transfer.

Tendon transfers are limited by requiring a period of immobilization postoperatively. In addition, we generally only use one donor tendon to restore one function, whereas, a nerve transfer can sometimes restore multiple functions with only one donor nerve.

An example of a tendon transfer is when one of the two tendons to extend the index finger are used to restore opposition of the thumb (bringing the thumb across the palm to touch the tips of the other digits).