Incidence, diagnostics and treatment algorithm of nerve lesions after traumatic shoulder dislocations: a retrospective multicenter study

T M Tiefenboeck, J Zeilinger, M Komjati, C Fialka, S Boesmueller
Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 2020 January 24

BACKGROUND: The shoulder is the joint most prone to dislocating in the human body and accounts for 45% of all dislocations. In addition to ruptures of the soft tissue and bony injuries, lesions to vascular structures as well as the brachial plexus and its corresponding nerves might occur. With an incidence of up to 65%, nerve lesions are frequently reported after shoulder dislocations. The aim of this study is to obtain information on epidemiology, diagnostics, treatment and duration until remission or late sequelae after shoulder dislocation and concomitant nerve injury in a large patient cohort.

METHODS: The patient cohort consisted of 15,739 patients from three centres who had sustained a shoulder dislocation. All patient files were searched for concomitant injury of the brachial plexus or its corresponding nerves. For epidemiological data analysis, demographic data, clinical follow-ups, electromyography and nerve conduction velocity were evaluated.

RESULTS: In total, 60 patients (32 males, 28 females) with a mean age of 60 years (range 19-88 years) met the inclusion criteria. In the majority of patients (n = 51), the trauma mechanism was a trivial fall on the outstretched arm. The most frequent dislocation direction was anterior-caudal in 61.6%, followed by strictly caudal in 16.6%. The brachial plexus was injured in 46 patients (76.6%) and isolated nerve damage was documented in 14 patients (23.3%). Electroneurographic examinations were performed in less than half of the patients (38.3%).

CONCLUSION: A combination injury of shoulder dislocation and plexus lesion may occur at any age and sometimes has a poor outcome. Electroneurographic examinations should be implemented when managing these patients as a cost-effective and supportive examination.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, retrospective study.


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