[C5-C6 and C5-C6-C7 traumatic paralysis of the brachial plexus of the adult caused by supraclavicular lesions]

J Y Alnot, P Rostoucher, C Oberlin, C Touam
Revue de Chirurgie Orthopédique et Réparatrice de L'appareil Moteur 1998, 84 (2): 113-23

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: In C5-C6 and C5-C6-C7 brachial plexus palsies, prognoses was based on the recovery of a useful shoulder and elbow in order to control a normal or partially impaired hand. Treatment was an integrated procedure combining direct nerve surgery and muscle transfers.

MATERIAL: Our study was performed on 27 cases of C5-C6 plexus palsy and 43 cases of C5-C6-C7 plexus palsy operated between 1984 and 1994, with an average delay between trauma and surgery of 8 months.

METHODS: Elbow flexion was obtained by nerve surgery on the anterior part of the primary trunk or directly on the musculo-cutaneous nerve and after muscle transfer. Nerve surgery on supra-scapular nerve, on posterior part of primary trunk or directly on axillary nerve was also performed.

RESULTS: The results were analyzed separately for shoulder and elbow flexion and globally. In C5-C6 palsies, elbow flexion was a goal which has been reached in 100 per cent of cases. Only 56 per cent of cases obtained a stable shoulder with active external rotation. In C5-C6-C7 palsies, elbow flexion was reached in 86 per cent of cases and stable shoulder with active external rotation only in 26 per cent. Reinnervation of the elbow flexors was reached by direct nerve surgery in 60 per cent of C5-C6 and 52 per cent of C5-C6-C7. Active external rotation was reached by spinal-suprascapularis nerve neurotization in 60 per cent of C5-C6 and 54 per cent of C5-C6-C7.

DISCUSSION: No significant difference after nerve surgery for elbow flexion was found between C5-C6 and C5-C6-C7 plexus palsies. Failures of nerve surgery will undergo muscle transfer. When C7 is damaged, less muscles are transferable and results are less good. For shoulder, best results were obtained after spinal suprascapularis nerve neurotization with direct suture. In case of failure, a derotation osteotomy was performed. If shoulder was still unstable, transposition of the coracoacromial ligament to the humerus was also performed.

CONCLUSION: In C5-C6 palsies, elbow flexion is a goal which must be reached in 100 per cent of cases. Prognosis depends of shoulder function. In C5-C6-C7 palsies, results are less good. 6 patients did not recover elbow flexion, no active mobility of the shoulder was observed in 63 per cent of them. The results obtained for elbow flexion are satisfactory if the program does not separate nerve surgery and muscle transfers.

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