Peripheral Nerve Surgery Program

The Massachusetts General Hospital Peripheral Nerve Surgery Program specializes in evaluating, diagnosing and treating patients with peripheral nerve disorders, including peripheral neuropathy, compression neuropathies such as carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral nerve injuries, neuromas and nerve tumors.

Located within a world-renowned academic medical center, the Peripheral Nerve Surgery Program offers innovative noninvasive and surgical treatments for the full spectrum of peripheral nerve disorders.

As part of our approach to care, we collaborate with a variety of subspecialists, including the Department of Orthopaedics, neurosurgeons, neurologists and anesthesiologists. Our highly trained dedicated plastic and reconstructive surgery nurse practitioners also work with patients to answer questions and assist with aftercare.

Comprehensive Treatment Options

We treat the full range of peripheral nerve disorders, including peripheral neuropathy, compression neuropathies such as carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral nerve injuries, neuromas and nerve tumors.

When surgery is required, we may incorporate traditional surgical techniques such as:

  • Nerve repair grafting, to reconnect damaged nerves
  • Nerve release, to free the area that is compressed, as in carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve compression at the elbow
  • Nerve transposition, in which the nerve is released and then moved to another location to prevent future compression

We are also experienced in leading-edge reconstructive procedures that may produce better outcomes in terms of movement and sensation:

  • Brachial plexus reconstruction, which addresses problems in a particular network of nerves within the neck and shoulder
  • Free functional muscle transfer from the leg to the arm may enable motor function of the hand, elbow, wrist or shoulder

What to Expect

Peripheral nerve disorders can be difficult to identify and treat. Many patients who come to our program have experienced long-term symptoms and undergone unsuccessful treatments or no treatment at all.

During your consultation, the surgeon will review your medical history and treatment goals. Treatment options, including risks and benefits, will be discussed in detail. Photos may also be necessary. We also ask that you bring a list of medications, vitamins and herbal supplements that you take, along with information on dosages.

The surgeon will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your condition, goals for treatment and personal preferences. Certain peripheral nerve disorders (e.g., compression neuropathies) may respond to nonsurgical approaches such as medication or physical or occupational therapy.

We may share before-and-after photos to demonstrate the benefits of various surgical options. Our goal is to give you a realistic picture of what to expect so that you can make an informed decision. We also review what's involved in any surgery, including:

  • Anesthesia
  • Anticipated results
  • Hospital care
  • Postoperative recuperation

Surgery for peripheral nerve disorders is frequently performed on an outpatient basis. The most complex cases typically require no more than two days in the hospital. Recovery is gradual, and our physicians continually monitor for improved muscle tone and function, along with return of sensation.

Physical and occupational therapy plays a role both before surgery (to keep joints and extremities mobile) and after surgery (to enhance recovery). Our physicians view postsurgical motor and sensory retraining to achieve better movement and feeling in the hand as it recovers as a particularly important component in the overall recovery process.

Innovative Research

Our experts perform leading research in the field of peripheral nerve surgery. Specific areas of study include:

  • Stem cell transplantation for enhancement of peripheral nerve regeneration: The possibility of transplanting stem cells directly into injured muscle to improve recovery following nerve repair and prevent muscle atrophy and irreversible muscle damage
  • The Brain-Body Interface Project: Examining ways to record and send critical signals from the brain directly to the hand to restore arm movement in certain patients with spinal cord injuries (a collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The project is supported by a grant from the Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through an opening from the wrist to the hand called the carpal tunnel.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Wang Ambulatory Care Center 435
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114, USA

Phone: 877-424-5678

We are also located at:

Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care
102 Endicott Street
Danvers, MA 01923

Request an Appointment

The Mass General Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is located in the Wang Ambulatory Care Center at 15 Parkman St. Parking is available in the Parkman St. and nearby Fruit St. and Yawkey Center garages. Please note that some GPS systems do not recognize the 15 Parkman St. address. If you use a GPS system to drive to Mass General, enter Blossom St. as your destination, and then turn onto Parkman directly from Blossom.

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