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Shoulder function following primary axillary nerve reconstruction in obstetrical brachial plexus patients

, : Shoulder function following primary axillary nerve reconstruction in obstetrical brachial plexus patients. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 122(5): 1457-1469

In obstetrical brachial plexus palsy, suprascapular nerve reinnervation is a priority. For the most favorable outcomes in shoulder function, it is the authors' policy to also reconstruct the axillary nerve with intraplexus donors to the posterior cord (early cases) or directly with intraplexus or extraplexus motor donors (late cases). Between 1979 and 2003, 80 consecutive patients (82 brachial plexuses) underwent plexus exploration and nerve reconstruction for obstetrical palsy. Axillary nerve reconstruction was performed in 60 plexuses, and evaluation of the results was carried out for 55 patients (56 plexuses) with adequate follow-up (mean follow-up, 6.5 years). Overall, there were good and excellent results (>/=M3+) in 49 of 56 plexuses (87.5 percent) for the deltoid muscle, and the average postoperative muscle grade for the deltoid was 3.89 +/- 0.79. The average shoulder abduction increased from 35 +/- 31 degrees preoperatively to 109 +/- 35 degrees postoperatively (average gain, 74 degrees), and the average external rotation increased from -13 +/- 28 degrees preoperatively to 47 +/- 18 degrees postoperatively (average gain, 60 degrees). The timing of surgery and the type of paralysis significantly influenced the final outcome. Reconstruction of the axillary nerve should always be performed to maximize the final outcome of shoulder function in obstetrical brachial plexus patients. The best results were seen in early cases (</=3 months), where the posterior cord was reconstructed from intraplexus donors. In late cases, reconstruction of the axillary nerve directly from the intercostal nerves could be a reliable option.


PMID: 18971730

DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181881f70

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