To our knowledge, few studies have been published regarding differences in nerve recovery potentials. In this study, sensory and motor recovery potentials were compared between different nerves.

A prospective study of a homogenous group of 393 graft repairs of the median, ulnar, radial, tibial, peroneal, femoral, and musculocutaneous nerves, with the scoring of motor and sensory recoveries. Sensory and motor recovery potentials, defined on the basis of average scores and rates of useful recovery, were compared between the different nerves, and separately for high-, intermediate-, and low-level repairs.

Sensory recovery potential was similar for all nerves tested (P > 0.05), but motor recovery potential differed significantly. After high-level repairs, motor recovery potential was significantly better for the radial and tibial nerves (useful recovery in 66.7 and 54.5% of patients, respectively), than for the ulnar and peroneal nerves (useful recovery in 15.4 and 13.8% of patients, respectively; P < 0.05). After intermediate-level repairs, motor recovery potential was better for the musculocutaneous, radial, and femoral nerves (useful recovery in 100, 98.3, and 87.5% of repairs, respectively), than for the tibial, median and ulnar nerves (useful recovery in 63.9, 52, and 43.6% of repairs, respectively; P < 0.05). In addition, motor recovery potential was significantly the worst with peroneal nerve repairs (useful recovery in 15.2% of patients; P < 0.05). After low-level repairs, motor recovery potential was similar for all nerves (useful recovery in the range of 88.9-100% of patients and in 56.3% of peroneal nerve repairs).

Sensory recovery potential is similar for the median, ulnar, and tibial nerves. The expression of motor recovery potential depends on the repair level. With low- and high-level repairs, it does not stand out in an obvious way, but it is fully expressed with intermediate-level repairs, classifying nerves into three categories with excellent, moderate, and poor recovery potential.