Surgical treatment of birth-related brachial plexus injuries: a historical review

Abstract

This historical review presents the relevant data about the evolution of the surgical treatment of neonatal brachial plexus palsy. Starting with the first clinical description by Smellie in 1754, we will present the initial enthusiasm for the surgery followed by a lack of interest that lasted many years, the resurgence of interest in operative management in the 1970s, and the consolidation in the 1980s of surgery as the standard indication in cases of neonatal brachial plexus palsy without a functional spontaneous recovery.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10

References

  1. 1.

    Alanen M, Halonen JP, Katevuo K, Vilkki P (1986) Early surgical exploration and epineural repair in birth brachial palsy. Z Kinderchir 41:335–337

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Birch R (2011) Surgical disorders of the peripheral nerves. 2nd Edition. Springer, London

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Boome RS, Kaye JC (1988) Obstetric traction injuries of the brachial plexus. Natural history, indications for surgical repair and results. J Bone Joint Surg (Br) 70:571–576

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Clark LP, Taylor AS, Prout TP (1905) A study on brachial birth palsy. Am J Med Sci 130:670–707

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Doherty R (1844) On impeding dissolution and nervous affections in young infants. Dublin J Med Sci 25:44–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Duchenne G (1872) De l’électrisation localisée et de son application à la pathologie et à la thérapeutique, Troisième edition. Paris, JB Bailliére; pp 357-362

  7. 7.

    Duval, Guillain (1898) Pathologie des accidents nerveux consécutifs aux luxations et traumatismes de l’épaule. Arch Gen Med 2:143–191

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Engelhard JLB (1906) Verlammingen van den plexus brachialis en n. facialis bij het pasgeboren kind. (Doctoral thesis) Utretch, P. Den Boer

  9. 9.

    Erb W (1874) Über eine eigenthümliche Localisation von Lähumgen im plexus brachialis. Verh Nat Med Vereins Heidelberg 2:130–136

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Erb W (1883) Handbook of electro-therapeutics. William Wood & Company, New York, pp 122–124

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Fairbank HA (1913) A lecture on birth palsy. Subluxation of the shoulder joint in infants and young children. Lancet 1:1217–1223

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Ferreira MC, Azze RJ (1985) Tratamento cirúrgico precoce da paralisia braquial obstétrica. Rev Bras Ortop 20:1–4

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Fieux G (1897) De la pathologie des paralysies obstétricales chez le nouveau-né. Paralysies obstétricales. Ann Gynecol 47:52–64

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Flaubert AC (1827) Mémoire sur plusiers cas de luxations dans les efforts pour la réduction ont été suivis d’accidents graves. Répertoire Générale d’Anatomie et de Physiologie Pathologique 3:55–79

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Gilbert A, Khouri N, Carlioz H (1980) Exploration chirurgicale du plexus brachial dans la paralysie obstétricale: constatations anatomiques chez 21 malades óperés. Rev Chir Orthop 66:33–42

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Gilbert A, Pivato G (2005) Obstetric palsy: the French contribution. Semin Plast Surg 19:5–16

    PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Gilbert A, Razaboni R, Amar-Khodja S (1988) Indications and results of brachial plexus surgery in obstetrical palsy. Orthop Clin North Am 19:91–105

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Gilbert A, Tassin JL (1984) Réparation chirurgicale du plexus brachial dans la paralysie obstétricale. Chirurgie 110:70–75

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Harris W, Low VW (1903) On the importance of accurate muscular analysis in lesions of the brachial plexus and the treatment of Erb’s palsy and infantile paralysis of the upper extremity by cross-union of nerve roots. Br Med J 2:1035–1038

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Jacquemier JM (1846) Manuel des Accouchements et des Maladies des Femmes Grosses et Accouchées, Contenant les Soins à Donner aux Nouveaux-nés. Bailliére, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Kawabata H, Masada K, Tsuyuguchi Y, Kawai H, Ono K, Tada K (1987) Early microsurgical reconstruction in birth palsy. Clin Orthop Relat Res 215:233–242

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Kennedy R (1903) Suture of the brachial plexus in birth paralysis of the upper extremity. Br Med J 1:298–301

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Kennedy R (1904) Further notes on the treatment of birth paralysis of the upper extremity by suture of the fifth and sixth cervical nerves. Proceedings of the seventy-second annual meeting of the British Medical Association, Oxford (July 27th-29th, 1904). Brit Med J Oct 22 1065-1068

  24. 24.

    Klumpke A (1885) Contribution a l’étude des paralysies radiculaires du plexus brachial: paralysies radiculaires totales, paralysies radiculaires inférieurs, de la participation du fillets sympathetique óculo-papillaires dans ces paralysies. Rev Med 5:591–616

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    L’Episcopo JB (1939) Restoration of muscle balance in the treatment of obstetrical paralysis. N Y State J Med 39:357–363

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    L’Episcopo JB (1934) Tendon transplantation in obstetrical paralysis. Am J Surg 25:122–125

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Lange F (1912) Die Distorsion des Ochultergelenkes. Münch Med Wochenschrift 59:1257

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Lauwers ME (1930) Le traitement chirurgical de la paralysie obstétricale. Chirurgie 36:161–174

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Meyer RD (1986) Treatment of adult and obstetrical brachial plexus injuries. Orthopedics 9:899–903

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Millesi H (1988) Brachial plexus injuries. Nerve grafting. Clin Orthop 237:36–42

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Morelli E, Raimondi PL, Saporiti E (1984) Il loro tratamento precoce. In: Pipino F (ed) Le Paralisi Obstetriche. Aulo Gagg, Bologna, pp 57–76

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Narakas AO (1987) Obstetrical brachial plexus injuries. In: Lamb DW (ed) The paralysed hand. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, pp 117–122

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Piatt JH, Hudson AR, Hoffman HJ (1988) Preliminary experiences with brachial plexus exploration in children: birth injury and vehicular trauma. Neurosurgery 22:715–723

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Seeligmüller ID (1877) Brachial plexus. Dtsch Arch Klin Med 20:101–103

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Sever JW (1920) Obstetric paralysis – its cause and treatment. Can Med Assoc J 10:141–161

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Sever JW (1916) Obstetric paralysis: its etiology, pathology, clinical aspects, and treatment, with report of four hundred and seventy cases. Am J Dis Child 12:541–578

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Sever JW (1925) Obstetric paralysis: report of eleven hundred cases. JAMA 85:1862–1865

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Smellie W (1754) A collection of cases and observations in midwifery. Vol. II. Wilson and Durham, London

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Smellie W (1764) A collection of preternatural cases and observations in midwifery, vol III. Wilson and Durham, London

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Smellie W (1754) A set of anatomical tables with explanations and an abridgment of the practice of midwifery, with a view to illustrate a treatise on the subject and collection of cases. D. Wilson, London

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Smellie W (1752) A treatise on the theory and practice of midwifery. D. Wilson, London

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Solonen KA, Telaranta T, Ryoppy S (1981) Early reconstruction of birth injuries of the brachial plexus. J Pediatr Orthop 1:367–370

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Spitzy H, Lange F (1915) Chirurgie und Orthopadie im Kindersalter. Vogel, Leipzig, p 384

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Tassin JL (1984) Paralysis obstétricales du plexus brachial. Evolution spontanée, résultats des interventions réparatrices précoces. Thèse, Université, Paris VII

  45. 45.

    Taylor AS (1920) Brachial birth palsy and injuries of similar type in adults. Surg Gynecol Obstet 30:494–502

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Taylor AS (1907) Results from the surgical treatment of brachial birth palsy. JAMA 48:96–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Terzis JK, Liberson WT, Levine R (1986) Obstetrical brachial plexus palsy. Hand Clin 2:773–786

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Thorburn W (1900) A clinical lecture on secondary suture of the brachial plexus. Br Med J 1:1073–1075

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Thorburn W (1903) Obstetrical paralysis. J Obstet Gynaecol Br Emp 3:454–458

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Wyeth JA, Sharpe W (1917) The field of neurological surgery in a general hospital. Surg Gynecol Obstet 24:29–36

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Dr. Lynda Yang of the University of Michigan, for her assistance in searching for some of the historical data used in preparing this paper.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mario G. Siqueira.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Siqueira, M.G., Heise, C.O. & Martins, R.S. Surgical treatment of birth-related brachial plexus injuries: a historical review. Childs Nerv Syst (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00381-020-04685-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Neonatal brachial plexus palsy
  • Surgical treatment
  • History