J Reconstr Microsurg 2019; 35(01): 057-065
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1667047
Original Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Clinical Outcomes of Nerve Transfers in Peroneal Nerve Palsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Linden K. Head
1  Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Katie Hicks
2  Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Gerald Wolff
3  Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Kirsty U. Boyd
1  Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

27 February 2018

22 May 2018

Publication Date:
22 August 2018 (online)


Background Given the unsatisfactory outcomes with traditional treatments, there is growing interest in nerve transfers to reestablish ankle dorsiflexion in peroneal nerve palsy. The objective of this work was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the primary literature to assess the effectiveness of nerve transfer surgery in restoring ankle dorsiflexion in patients with peroneal nerve palsy.

Methods Methodology was registered with PROSPERO, and PRISMA guidelines were followed. MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched. English studies investigating outcomes of nerve transfers in peroneal nerve palsy were included. Two reviewers completed screening and extraction. Methodological quality was evaluated with Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

Results Literature search identified 108 unique articles. Following screening, 14 full-text articles were reviewed. Four retrospective case series met inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. Overall, 41 patients underwent nerve transfer for peroneal nerve palsy. The mean age of the patients was 36.1 years, mean time to surgery was 6.3 months, and the mean follow-up period was 19.0 months. Donor nerve was either tibial (n = 36) or superficial peroneal branches/fascicles (n = 5). Recipient nerve was either deep peroneal (n = 24) or tibialis anterior branch (n = 17). Postoperative ankle dorsiflexion strength demonstrated a bimodal distribution with a mean Medical Research Council of 2.1. There were no significant differences in dorsiflexion strength between injury sites (p = 0.491), injury mechanisms (p = 0.125), donor (p = 0.066), or recipient nerves (p = 0.496). There were no significant correlations between dorsiflexion strength and patient age (p = 0.094) or time to surgery (p = 0.493).

Conclusions There is variability in dorsiflexion strength following nerve transfer in peroneal nerve palsy, whereby there appear to be responders and non-responders. Further studies are needed to better define appropriate patient selection and the role of nerve transfers in the management of peroneal nerve palsy.


This study was presented at the American Society of Peripheral Nerve (ASPN) Annual Meeting, January 12–14, 2018, in Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

This study exclusively uses published data and is exempt from Institutional Review Board approval under the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans, 2nd edition (TCPS 2).

Study Registration

Review methodology was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42017067513), an international prospective register of systematic reviews.