OBJECTIVE: To supplement the scant information available regarding the satisfaction of patients with tetraplegia following upper extremity reconstructive surgery for such individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study with questionnaire follow-up. SETTING: The Danish Spinal Cord Injury Centers. MATERIAL AND METHODS: In the initial review period, 119 upper extremity surgeries were performed on patients with tetraplegia (n = 49). Seven died and the remaining 42 were invited to complete a follow-up questionnaire with a five-level scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree regarding satisfaction. Forty patients completed the questionnaire. RESULTS: Median time from first surgery was 13 years (2-36). Sixty-five percent of the sample had a C5-C6 SCI, with 64% experiencing complete injury. Initially, 76% of the sample expressed general satisfaction with life, but only 28% of the sample reported that hand appearance improved after surgery. Interestingly, those having surgery from 1991 to 2008 reported significantly greater satisfaction (P < 0.001) and were significantly more satisfied with activities of daily living (ADL) (P < 0.001) than those having surgery between the years 1973 and 1990. In particular, gain of independence was obtained with pinch/specific hand surgery compared to triceps activation. Accordingly, the pinch/specific hand surgery group was significantly more satisfied than the triceps group on the ADL (P = 0.027), and the independence questions (P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Overall satisfaction with upper extremity surgery is high. It can have a positive impact on life in general, ability to perform ADL, as well as supplying an increased level of independence.
Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 2015, Vol 38, Issue 2, p. 161-9