Spontaneous recovery of elbow flexion in obstetric brachial plexus palsy at 4 to 6 months of age is sufficient to exclude the child from the early microsurgical intervention. However, lack of complete active external rotation of shoulder is a common finding in such cases despite ongoing other arm and shoulder functions. Nerve transfer is proposed to manage such cases before the age of 18 months.
The aim of this study was to study the distal transfer of the spinal accessory nerve to the suprascapular nerve through posterior approach and its effect on the shoulder reanimation in patients with obstetric brachial plexus lesion who had spontaneously recovered biceps function but not shoulder function before the age of 18 months.
Patients and methods
This prospective study included 20 patients admitted to Elhadra University Hospital with obstetric brachial plexus lesion aged between 10 and 18 months with spontaneous recovery of biceps function, weak active shoulder abduction grade 4 or grade 5 and deficient active shoulder external rotation. All patients were assessed preoperative and postoperative by Active Movement Scale.
Active shoulder external rotation improved in all patients at the end of follow-up period, whereas the shoulder abduction improved in 80%. Early surgery in patient younger than 16 months shows better results.
The distal transfer of spinal accessory nerve to suprascapular nerve is an effective method for active shoulder abduction and external rotation recovery in spontaneously recovered elbow flexion in obstetric brachial plexus lesions. Better results are obtained in patients younger than 16 months old. Early transfer balances the forces around the shoulder joint, preventing shoulder internal rotation contracture.