Current Approach to Radial Nerve Paralysis

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Abstract

Radial nerve paralysis, which can result from a complex humerus fracture, direct nerve trauma, compressive neuropathies, neuritis, or (rarely) from malignant tumor formation, has been reported throughout the literature, with some controversy regarding its diagnosis and management. The appropriate management of any radial nerve palsy depends primarily on an accurate determination of its cause, severity, duration, and level of involvement. The radial nerve can be injured as proximally as the brachial plexus or as distally as the posterior interosseous or radial sensory nerve. This article reviews the etiology, prognosis, and various treatments available for radial nerve paralysis. It also provides a new classification system and treatment algorithm to assist in the management of patients with radial nerve palsies, and it offers a simple, five-step approach to radial nerve release in the forearm. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 110: 1099, 2002.)

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