Meta-Analysis of Long Thoracic Nerve Decompression and Neurolysis Versus Muscle and Tendon Transfer Operative Treatments of Winging Scapula

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Abstract

Background:

Injury to long thoracic and the spinal accessory nerves can cause winging scapula as a result of weakness and paralysis of the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles. Although these nerve and muscle operations have been reported to correct winging scapula due to various causes, there is no report on comparing the outcomes of these procedures in peer-reviewed Pubmed-indexed literature. In this article, we compared the improvements in the restoration of shoulder functions in winging scapula patients after long thoracic nerve decompression (LTND) in our present study with outcomes of muscle and tendon transfer operations published in the literature (Aetna cited articles).

Methods:

Twenty-five winging scapula patients met the inclusion criteria, who had LTND and neurolysis at our clinic since 2008. Electromyographic evaluation of the brachial plexus and long thoracic nerve distribution was performed preoperatively for all our patients in this study. Operating surgeon (R.K.N.) examined all patients and measured pre- and postoperative range of motion of the affected shoulder. The mean follow-up was 23 months (range, 13–46 months). Age of our patients in this study at the time of surgery was between 13 and 63 years. These patients had winging scapula between 5 days (tennis injury) and several years before surgery and some were unknown.

Results:

Shoulder flexion and abduction improved to an average of 163˚ (P < 0.000006) and 157˚ (P < 0.0000005) from 104˚ and 97˚ at least 1-year post-LTND in 25 winging scapula patients in our present study. This is statistically significant in comparison to the reported improvements resulting from muscle and tendon transfer procedures in the Pubmed-indexed (Aetna cited) literature.

Conclusion:

This meta-analysis suggests that nerve surgeries such as LTND and neurolysis are effective techniques in correcting winging scapula in comparison with muscle transfer operations.

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