THE SURGICAL TREATMENT OF BRACHIAL PLEXUS INJURIES


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Abstract

Background:Brachial plexus injuries cause a devastating loss of function in the arm. The aim of this study was to review the results of surgical treatment of patients with brachial plexus injuries.Methods:Forty-seven patients were reviewed. Five patients did not undergo surgery. Forty-two patients had exploration and 38 had primary surgery with neurolysis, nerve graft or neurotization or a combination. Four patients had other reconstructive surgery primarily. Secondary reconstructive surgery consisted of joint fusions and tendon transfers to enhance or replace the primary surgery.Results:Nerve grafting achieved 62% Medical Research Council (MRC) grade M3 or better. Intercostal neurotization (ICN) of the musculocutaneous nerve (MCN) for elbow flexion achieved M3 or better in 69% of patients.Conclusions:Primary nerve reconstruction, combined with joint fusions and tendon transfers, provides a worthwhile return of function to many patients. We advise early exploration (i.e. within 2 weeks when possible) for patients with complete C5-T1 lesions or C5, 6, 7 lesions in conjunction with high energy injuries. In order to obtain optimal results patients with brachial plexus injuries should be referred to appropriate units as early as possible.

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