Augmentation of partially regenerated nerves by end-to-side side-to-side grafting neurotization: experience based on eight late obstetric brachial plexus cases

Sherif M Amr, Ashraf N Moharram, Kamal M S Abdel-Meguid
Journal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury 2006, 1: 6

OBJECTIVE: The effect of end-to-side neurotization of partially regenerated recipient nerves on improving motor power in late obstetric brachial plexus lesions, so-called nerve augmentation, was investigated.

METHODS: Eight cases aged 3-7 years were operated upon and followed up for 4 years (C5,6 rupture C7,8 T1 avulsion: 5; C5,6,7,8 rupture T1 avulsion: 1; C5,6,8 T1 rupture C7 avulsion: 1; C5,6,7 rupture C8 T1 compression: one 3 year presentation after former neurotization at 3 months). Grade 1-3 muscles were neurotized. Grade 0 muscles were neurotized, if the electromyogram showed scattered motor unit action potentials on voluntary contraction without interference pattern. Donor nerves included: the phrenic, accessory, descending and ascending loops of the ansa cervicalis, 3rd and 4th intercostals and contralateral C7.

RESULTS: Superior proximal to distal regeneration was observed firstly. Differential regeneration of muscles supplied by the same nerve was observed secondly (superior supraspinatus to infraspinatus regeneration). Differential regeneration of antagonistic muscles was observed thirdly (superior biceps to triceps and pronator teres to supinator recovery). Differential regeneration of fibres within the same muscle was observed fourthly (superior anterior and middle to posterior deltoid regeneration). Differential regeneration of muscles having different preoperative motor powers was noted fifthly; improvement to Grade 3 or more occurred more in Grade 2 than in Grade 0 or Grade 1 muscles. Improvements of cocontractions and of shoulder, forearm and wrist deformities were noted sixthly. The shoulder, elbow and hand scores improved in 4 cases.

LIMITATIONS: The sample size is small. Controls are necessary to rule out any natural improvement of the lesion. There is intra- and interobserver variability in testing muscle power and cocontractions.

CONCLUSION: Nerve augmentation improves cocontractions and muscle power in the biceps, pectoral muscles, supraspinatus, anterior and lateral deltoids, triceps and in Grade 2 or more forearm muscles. As it is less expected to improve infraspinatus power, it should be associated with a humeral derotation osteotomy and tendon transfer. Function to non improving Grade 0 or 1 forearm muscles should be restored by muscle transplantation.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, prospective case series.

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