Outcomes from primary surgical reconstruction of neonatal brachial plexus palsy in 104 children
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The outcome from microsurgical reconstruction of neonatal brachial plexus palsy (NBPP) varies, and comparison between different series is difficult, given the differences in preoperative evaluation, surgical strategies, and outcome analysis. To evaluate our results, we reviewed a series of children who underwent surgical treatment in a period of 14 years.
We made a retrospective review of 104 cases in which microsurgical repair of the brachial plexus was performed. Strength was graded using the Active Movement Scale. Whenever possible, upper palsies underwent surgery 4 to 6 months after birth and total lesions around 3 months. The lesions were repaired, according to the type of injury: neurolysis, nerve grafting, nerve transfer, or a combination of techniques. The children were followed for at least 24 months.
The majority of cases were complete lesions (56/53.8%). Erb’s palsy was present in 10 cases (9.6%), and 39 infants (37.5%) presented an extended Erb’s palsy. The surgical techniques applied were neurolysis (10.5%), nerve grafts (25.9%), nerve transfers (34.6%), and a combination of grafts and transfers (30.7%). The final outcome was considered poor in 41.3% of the cases, good in 34.3%, and excellent in 24%. A functional result (good plus excellent) was achieved in 58.3% of the cases.
There is no consensus regarding strategies for treatment of NBPP. Our surgical outcomes indicated a good general result comparing with the literature. However, our results were lower than the best results reported. Maybe the explanation is our much higher number of total palsy cases (53.8% vs. 25% in the literature).
KeywordsNeonatal brachial plexus palsy Brachial plexus reconstruction Nerve grafts Nerve transfers
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