0
Articles   |    
Comparison of the Natural History, the Outcome of Microsurgical Repair, and the Outcome of Operative Reconstruction in Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy*
PETER M. WATERS, M.D.†, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
View Disclosures and Other Information
Investigation performed at Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 1999 May 01;81(5):649-59
5 Recommendations (Recommend) | 3 Comments | Saved by 3 Users Save Case

Abstract

Background: The purposes of this study were to document the natural history of brachial plexus birth palsy, in relation to the recovery of biceps function, in the first six months of life; to assess the outcome after microsurgical repair of the brachial plexus in patients who had no recovery of biceps function at six months; and to compare the results of transfer of the latissimus dorsi and teres major tendons with the results of derotation osteotomy of the humerus and to compare the results of the tendon transfers and the osteotomy with the natural history of the disorder.Methods: Sixty-six patients (sixty-seven lesions) who had brachial plexus birth palsy were seen for an initial evaluation when they were less than three months old. The time of recovery of biceps function was recorded for each month of life for six months from the date of birth. The patients were divided into groups according to the month of life during which recovery of biceps strength was noted. A physical examination and an assessment with use of the functional criteria of Mallet were performed each month. Microsurgical repair of the brachial plexus was performed in six infants who had no evidence of biceps function within the first six months of life. Another group of twenty-seven patients were referred for evaluation of chronic neuropathy after they were six months old. A transfer of the latissimus dorsi and teres major tendons to the rotator cuff was performed in nine of these patients and a derotation osteotomy of the humerus was performed in seven because of an internal rotation contracture or functional weakness of the external rotators of the shoulder.Results: Twenty-two infants had recovery of biceps function within the first three months of life and had normal function at the time of the latest evaluation. Infants who had recovery of biceps function during the fourth, fifth, or sixth month of life later had significantly worse function, according to the criteria described by Mallet, than those who had had recovery in the first three months (p < 0.005). The clinical results for the six patients who had had microsurgical repair six months after birth were significantly better (p < 0.04) than those for the fifteen patients who had had recovery of biceps function in the fifth month of life. However, the results for the patients who had had repair of the brachial plexus were not found to be better than those for the eleven patients who had had recovery of biceps function in the fourth month of life. The improvement in function, as assessed with use of the Mallet criteria, after tendon transfer (p < 0.001) and humeral osteotomy (p < 0.0001) was significant.Conclusions: The present study confirms the observation of Gilbert and Tassin that it is rare for infants who have recovery of biceps function after the age of three months to have complete neurological recovery. Microsurgical repair was effective in improving function in the small subgroup of patients who had no evidence of recovery of biceps function within the first six months of life.

Figures in this Article
    Sign In to Your Personal ProfileSign In To Access Full Content
    Not a Subscriber?
    Get online access for 30 days for $35
    New to JBJS?
    Sign up for a full subscription to both the print and online editions
    Register for a FREE limited account to get full access to all CME activities, to comment on public articles, or to sign up for alerts.
    Register for a FREE limited account to get full access to all CME activities
    Have a subscription to the print edition?
    Current subscribers to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in either the print or quarterly DVD formats receive free online access to JBJS.org.
    Forgot your password?
    Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.

     
    Forgot your username or need assistance? Please contact customer service at subs@jbjs.org. If your access is provided
    by your institution, please contact you librarian or administrator for username and password information. Institutional
    administrators, to reset your institution's master username or password, please contact subs@jbjs.org

    References

    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
    CME Activities Associated with This Article
    Submit a Comment
    Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
    Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discretion of JBJS editorial staff.

    * = Required Field
    (if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
    Example: John Doe





    Related Content
    The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery
    JBJS Case Connector
    Topic Collections
    Related Audio and Videos
    PubMed Articles
    Guidelines
    Results provided by:
    PubMed
    Clinical Trials
    Readers of This Also Read...
    JBJS Jobs
    12/04/2013
    New York - Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
    04/02/2014
    W. Virginia - Charleston Area Medical Center
    12/31/2013
    S. Carolina - Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Medical Univerity of South Carlonina
    02/28/2014
    District of Columbia (DC) - Children's National Medical Center