Saphenous nerve to posterior tibial nerve transfer: A new approach to restore sensations of sole in diabetic sensory polyneuropathy

Published:February 05, 2021DOI:



      Loss of sensations in the sole following diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy (DSPN) leads to diabetic foot ulcers and its sequelae. We hypothesized that sensory reinnervation of sole by transfer of saphenous nerve (SN) to sensory fascicles of posterior tibial nerve (PTN) in these patients may reverse the neuropathy.


      This prospective interventional case series included patients with advanced DSPN and intact sensory supply of SN. PTN was neurotized by transfer of SN nerve in the tarsal tunnel and postoperatively sensations of the sole were tested. Any existing ulcers on sole were noted and their healing was monitored.


      A total of 17 patients (22 feet), 9 male and 8 female, were included. Seven patients had ulcers in the feet. At 6 months follow-up all patients developed protective sensation in the sole. The average 2 PD improved from 60 mm to 45.5 mm, average vibration perception improved from 34.12 V to 24.33, Medical Research Council (MRC) score improved from S0 in 12 feet and S1 in 10 feet to S3+ in 13 feet, S3 in 5 feet, and S2 in 2 feet at 6 months along with healing of ulcers in all 7 feet.


      Transfer of SN to PTN for sensory neurotization is an innovative and simple option to prevent complications of DSPN. This procedure has the potential to change the natural history of DSPN.


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