Retrospective case series with one year follow-up after radial nerve palsy associated with humeral fractures

Nikolaus Wilhelm Lang, Roman Christian Ostermann, Cathrin Arthold, Julian Joestl, Patrick Platzer
International Orthopaedics 2017, 41 (1): 191-196

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess recovery and clinical outcome in patients with primary or secondary radial nerve palsy following humeral shaft fracture.

METHODS: We retrospectively assessed 102 patients (45 female and 57 male) with humeral shaft fracture and concomitant radial nerve palsy, who were followed up for 12 months. Patients were divided into two groups with primary or secondary radial nerve palsy depending on the onset. Muscle function was measured according to Daniels classification and degree of nerve damage was assessed by the Sunderland classification.

RESULTS: The average time for onset of recovery after primary RNP was 10.5 ± 3.31 weeks, in the case of secondary RNP it was 8.9 ± 7.98 weeks (p < 0.05). Full recovery or significant improvement was achieved with average of 26.7 ± 8.86 weeks and 23.9 ± 6.04 weeks respectively (p < 0.05). Trauma mechanism and type of treatment had no significant influence on time of onset of recovery or time to full recovery (p < 0.904).

CONCLUSION: Secondary RNP shows tendency for earlier recovery and is more commonly associated with ORIF.

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