Combined nerve transfers for C5 and C6 brachial plexus avulsion injury

Somsak Leechavengvongs, Kiat Witoonchart, Chairoj Uerpairojkit, Phairat Thuvasethakul, Kanchai Malungpaishrope
Journal of Hand Surgery 2006, 31 (2): 183-9

PURPOSE: To report the results of combined nerve transfer in C5 and C6 brachial plexus avulsion injury.

METHODS: Fifteen patients had nerve transfers: spinal accessory nerve to the suprascapular nerve, a part of the ulnar nerve to the biceps motor branch, and the nerve to the long head of the triceps to the anterior branch of the axillary nerve. Patients were evaluated with regard to elbow flexion, shoulder abduction, and shoulder external rotation.

RESULTS: All patients had recovered full elbow flexion: 13 scored M4 and 2 scored M3. Thirteen of the 15 patients obtained good results. The weight the patients could lift ranged from 0 to 7 kg. All patients had recovery of the deltoid function: 13 scored M4 and 2 scored M3. All 15 patients achieved useful functional recovery. Ten patients experienced excellent recoveries and 5 were classified as having good results. The mean shoulder abduction was 115 degrees . Shoulder external rotation strength was scored as M4 in 9 patients, M3 in 4 patients, and M2 in 2 patients. The range of motion of external rotation that was measured from full internal rotation averaged 97 degrees . No clinical donor nerve deficits were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: We recommend combined nerve transfers for C5 and C6 avulsion root injuries. These nerve transfers have the advantage of a quick recovery time as a result of the short regeneration distance without nerve graft.


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