European Radiology

, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp 1806–1814 | Cite as

Functional MRI activation of somatosensory and motor cortices in a hand-grafted patient with early clinical sensorimotor recovery

  • C. Neugroschl
  • V. Denolin
  • F. Schuind
  • C. Van Holder
  • P. David
  • D. Balériaux
  • T Metens


The aim of this study was to investigate somatosensory and motor cortical activity with functional MRI (fMRI) in a hand-grafted patient with early clinical recovery. The patient had motor fMRI examinations before transplantation, and motor and passive tactile stimulations after surgery. His normal hand and a normal group were studied for comparison. A patient with complete brachial plexus palsy was studied to assess the lack of a fMRI signal in somatosensory areas in the case of total axonal disconnection. Stimulating the grafted hand revealed significant activation in the contralateral somatosensory cortical areas in all fMRI examinations. The activation was seen as early as 10 days after surgery; this effect cannot be explained by the known physiological mechanisms of nerve regeneration. Although an imagination effect cannot be excluded, the objective clinical recovery of sensory function led us to formulate the hypothesis that a connection to the somatosensory cortex was rapidly established. Additional cases and fundamental studies are needed to assess this hypothesis, but several observations were compatible with this explanation. Before surgery, imaginary motion of the amputated hand produced less intense responses than executed movements of the intact hand, whereas the normal activation pattern for right-handed subjects was found after surgery, in agreement with the good clinical motor recovery.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging Somatosensory cortex Hand transplantation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Neugroschl
    • 1
  • V. Denolin
    • 1
  • F. Schuind
    • 1
  • C. Van Holder
    • 1
  • P. David
    • 1
  • D. Balériaux
    • 1
  • T Metens
    • 1
  1. 1.ULB-Hopital Erasme, RadiologyBrusselsBelgium

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