gms | German Medical Science

59th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)
3rd Joint Meeting with the Italian Neurosurgical Society (SINch)

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

1 - 4 June 2008, Würzburg

Traumatic lesions of the brachial plexus: an analysis of outcomes after primary brachial plexus reconstruction and secondary functional arm reanimation from a single service

Traumatische Plexus brachialis Läsionen: eine Analyse der Ergebnissen nach primären Plexus rekonstruktionen, sowie sekundäre Ersatzoperationen aus einer Klinik

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author K.D. Martin - Neurochirurgische Universitätsklinik, Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden
  • G. Schackert - Neurochirurgische Universitätsklinik, Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden
  • K. G. Krishnan - Neurochirurgische Universitätsklinik, Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Società Italiana di Neurochirurgia. 59. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie e.V. (DGNC), 3. Joint Meeting mit der Italienischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (SINch). Würzburg, 01.-04.06.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2008. DocMO.14.08

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: May 30, 2008

© 2008 Martin et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: To retrospectively analyze the outcomes of primary, as well as secondary functional reconstructions in 58 patients with traumatic brachial plexus lesions (BP) treated at Carl Gustav Carus Universitätskrankenhaus Dresden between 2000 and 2006. The aim is to provide an account of the fate of patients with BP lesions after several treatment modalities. Guidelines for treatment might be extracted from this analysis.

Methods: Among 152 cases with traumatic lesions of the brachial plexus presented in our clinic, 58 (50 adults and 8 infants) underwent primary brachial plexus reconstructive surgery. On exploration, all patients showed stretching and scarring of plexus elements; of these 28 adults (56%) and one newborn (12.5%) showed root avulsions. An outcome evaluation was carried out in 49 of these patients with a follow-up of one year or more (mean follow-up: 27.9 months; range 12-72 months). A total number of 43 secondary reconstructive procedures to improve functionality of the involved arm were performed at a later stage in 25/58 patients. Outcomes of the secondary functional restorative procedures were evaluated (mean follow-up: 11.5 months; range 3-60 months in 43 procedures).

Results: Patients with neurolysis as a stand alone procedure (11 patients) showed an outcome grade of 4-5. The average outcome of patients with C5, C6 and C7 grafting (19 patients) was grade 3, same as in patients with nerve transfers to the upper plexus elements (C5-6 root avulsions, 13 patients). One child with C8 and T1 avulsion receiving intraplexual transfer showed an outcome of grade 3. Patients with multiple root avulsions (5 cases) had an overall poor outcome (grade 0-2). Secondary functional restorative surgery was required in 43% of the patients, and helped to improve individual outcomes, resulting in a favorable improvement in the general functionality of the arm. Among the functional restorative operations, the Steidler procedure, a restoration of wrist extension, claw hand correction, as well as free functional muscle flaps to the arm and forearm were the most rewarding.

Conclusions: A combination of primary brachial plexus reconstruction, as well as carefully evaluated, selected and planned functional restorative secondary procedures may offer improved outcomes in patients with partial or total brachial plexus lesions.