In free functional muscle transplantation, a muscle that is not critical for movement in its current location is transplanted somewhere else in the body to restore movement.
A common example of muscle transplant is taking the gracilis muscle (located inside the thigh) and transplanting it in the arm (to replace the biceps) to provide hand closing or opening.
In order to provide movement and stay alive in its new location, the transplanted muscle must be connected to an artery and vein, as well as a healthy nerve that the patient can control.
How Soon Should I Have It Done?
Unlike in nerve reconstruction, there are no time constraints for performing a free functional muscle transplant. Some patients have undergone this procedure even a decade after their injury and recovered useful function.
Patients are required to stay in the hospital for several days following the procedure to ensure that the blood vessels to the new muscle continue to flow efficiently.
Muscle transfer or transplant may restore elbow flexion and grasp function in select patients with peripheral nerve injury.