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Concept: Brachial plexus


A 46-year old male patient was admitted with a history of an extremely painful right upper arm, associated with unilateral clubbing. Duplex scanning and magnetic resonance imaging were suggestive of a pseudo-aneurysm of the brachial artery. Digital angiography showed an irregular brachial artery, associated with a small pseudo-aneurysm. The brachial artery was partially resected and reconstructed with a venous interposition graft. Pathological examination provided the final diagnosis of fibromuscular dysplasia. Although more encountered in women, this case report describes the occurrence of fibromuscular dysplasia in an unusual location in a male patient with a long-term follow-up.

Concepts: X-ray, Blood pressure, Medical imaging, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, Humerus, Radiology, Brachial plexus


Brachial plexus injuries can permanently impair hand function, yet present surgical reconstruction provides only poor results. Here, we present for the first time bionic reconstruction; a combined technique of selective nerve and muscle transfers, elective amputation, and prosthetic rehabilitation to regain hand function.

Concepts: Surgery, Injury, Amputation, Median nerve, Brachial plexus, Axillary artery, Plexus, Brachial plexus injury


Interscalene brachial plexus block (ISBPB) provides excellent analgesia after rotator cuff surgery but is associated with diaphragm dysfunction. In this study, ISBPB with 20 mL of 0.125% or 0.25% bupivacaine were compared to assess the effect on diaphragm function, oxygen saturation, pain control, opioid requirements, and patient satisfaction.

Concepts: Anesthesia, Opioid, Pain, Thoracic diaphragm, Pain management, Rotator cuff, Brachial plexus, Plexus


BACKGROUND: Since the 18th century, the existence of ulnar nerve innervation of the medial head of the triceps brachii muscle has been controversial. The evidence for or against such innervation has been based on macroscopic dissection, an unsuitable method for studying intraneural topography or intramuscular branching. The study of smaller specimens (embryos or fetuses) by means of serial histologic sections may resolve the controversy. QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: Using fetal specimens and histology we determined the contributions of the ulnar and radial nerves to innervation of the triceps brachii muscle. METHODS: We histologically examined 15 embryonic and fetal arms. Radial nerve branches obtained from six adult arms were analyzed immunohistochemically to determine motor fiber content. RESULTS: The medial head of the triceps brachii muscle was always innervated by the radial nerve (ulnar collateral branch). The branches seeming to leave the ulnar nerve at elbow level were the continuation of the radial nerve that had joined the ulnar nerve sheath via a connection in the axillary region. Immunohistochemistry revealed motor and nonmotor fibers in this radial nerve branch. CONCLUSIONS: A connection between the radial and ulnar nerves sometimes may exist, resulting in an apparent ulnar nerve origin of muscular branches to the medial head of the triceps, even though in all our specimens the fibers could be traced back to the radial nerve. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Before performing or suggesting new muscle and nerve transpositions using this apparent ulnar innervation, the real origin should be confirmed to avoid failure.

Concepts: Muscle, Biceps brachii muscle, Triceps brachii muscle, Nerve, Ulnar nerve, Brachial plexus, Radial nerve, Radial sulcus


Restoration of stability and movements at the shoulder joint are the 2 most important goals in the management of brachial plexus injuries. The 2 nerves that are preferentially targeted for this purpose are the suprascapular (SSN) and the axillary (AXN) nerves. These nerve transfers have conventionally been performed by the anterior approach, but recently transfers performed by posterior incisions have been gaining popularity, by virtue of being selective and located close to the target muscles. Herein, we describe the technical details of spinal accessory nerve (SAN) to SSN and triceps branch to AXN for upper plexus injuries, both performed by the posterior approach.

Concepts: Cranial nerves, Brachial plexus, Suprascapular nerve, Trapezius muscle, Axillary nerve, Radial nerve, Accessory nerve


The authors described a modified pathological classification (PC) of brachial plexus injury (BPI) and its magnetic resonance (MR) imaging characteristics. The reliability and diagnostic accuracy of MR imaging for detecting nerve injury was discussed. Between 2006 and 2010, 86 patients with BPI were managed surgically in our department. Their preoperative MR images and surgical findings were analyzed retrospectively. The PC of BPI was classified into five types: (I) nerve root injury in continuity (including Sunderland grade I-IV injury); (II) postganglionic spinal nerve rupture with or without proximal stump; (III) preganglionic root injury (visible); (IV) preganglionic nerve root injury and postganglionic spinal nerves injury; (V) preganglionic root injury (invisible). The main MR imaging characteristics of BPI included traumatic meningocele, displacement of spinal cord, the absence of nerve root, “Black line” sign, nerve root/trunk injury in continuity, and thickening and edema of nerve root. The accuracy of MR imaging for detecting C5, C6, C7, C8, and T1 nerve roots injury were 93.3, 95.2, 92.3, 84, and 74.4%, respectively. The modified PC provides a detailed description of nerve root injury in BPI, and MR imaging technique is a reliable method for detecting nerve root injury.

Concepts: Nervous system, Spinal cord, Surgery, Magnetic resonance imaging, Reliability, Nerve, Spinal nerve, Brachial plexus


Scapular winging secondary to serratus anterior muscle palsy is a rare pathology. It is usually due to a lesion in the thoracic part of the long thoracic nerve following violent upper-limb stretching with compression on the nerve by the anterior branch of thoracodorsal artery at the “crow’s foot landmark” where the artery crosses in front of the nerve. Scapular winging causes upper-limb pain, fatigability or impotence. Diagnosis is clinical and management initially conservative. When functional treatment by physiotherapy fails to bring recovery within 6months and electromyography (EMG) shows increased distal latencies, neurolysis may be suggested. Muscle transfer and scapula-thoracic arthrodesis are considered as palliative treatments. We report a single-surgeon experience of nine open neurolyses of the thoracic part of the long thoracic nerve in eight patients. At 6months' follow-up, no patients showed continuing signs of winged scapula. Control EMG showed significant reduction in distal latency; Constant scores showed improvement, and VAS-assessed pain was considerably reduced. Neurolysis would thus seem to be the first-line surgical attitude of choice in case of compression confirmed on EMG. The present results would need to be confirmed in larger studies with longer follow-up, but this is made difficult by the rarity of this pathology. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III.

Concepts: Heart, Muscle, Electromyography, Brachial plexus, Scapula, Serratus anterior muscle, Winged scapula, Long thoracic nerve


: Children with obstetrical brachial plexus injury often develop an internal rotation and adduction contracture about the shoulder as a secondary deformity, resulting in an inability to externally rotate and abduct the shoulder. The Hoffer procedure is evaluated for its potential benefit in improving shoulder abduction and external rotation and its impact on activities of daily living.

Concepts: Shoulder, Deltoid muscle, Brachial plexus, Abduction, Adduction


BACKGROUND: Historically, the anterolateral interscalene block-deposition of local anesthetic adjacent to the brachial plexus roots/trunks-has been used for surgical procedures involving the shoulder. The resulting block frequently failed to provide surgical anesthesia of the hand and forearm, even though the brachial plexus at this level included all of the axons of the upper-extremity terminal nerves. However, it remains unknown whether deposition of local anesthetic adjacent to the seventh cervical root or inferior trunk results in anesthesia of the hand and forearm. METHODS: Using ultrasound guidance and a needle-in-plane posterior approach, a Tuohy needle was positioned with the tip located between the deepest and next-deepest visualized brachial plexus root/trunk, followed by injection of mepivacaine (1.5%). Grip strength and the tolerance to cutaneous electrical current in 5 terminal nerve distributions were measured at baseline and then every 5 minutes following injection for a total of 30 minutes. The primary end point was the proportion of cases in which the interscalene nerve block resulted in a decrease in grip strength of at least 90% and hand and forearm anesthesia (tolerance to >50 mA of current in all 5 terminal nerve distributions) within 30 minutes. The primary hypothesis was that a single-injection interscalene brachial plexus block produces a similar rate of anesthesia of the hand and forearm to the published success rate of 95% for other brachial plexus block approaches. RESULTS: Of 55 subjects with blocks placed per protocol, all had a successful block of the shoulder as defined by inability to abduct at the shoulder joint. Thirty-three subjects had measurements at 30 minutes following local anesthetic deposition, and only 5 (15%) of these subjects had a surgical block of the hand and forearm (P < 0.0001; 95% confidence interval, 6%-33%). We therefore reject the hypothesis that the interscalene block as performed in this study provides equivalent anesthesia to the hand and forearm compared with other brachial plexus block techniques. Block failures of the hand and forearm were due to inadequate cutaneous anesthesia of the ulnar (n = 27; 82%), median (n = 26; 78%), or radial (n = 22; 67%) distributions; the medial forearm (n = 25; 76%); and/or the lateral forearm (n = 14; 42%). Failure to achieve at least a 90% reduction in grip strength occurred in 16 subjects (48%). CONCLUSIONS: This study did not find evidence to support the hypothesis that local anesthetic injected adjacent to the deepest brachial plexus roots/trunks reliably results in surgical anesthesia of the hand and forearm.

Concepts: Surgery, Anesthesia, Local anesthesia, Forearm, Ulnar nerve, Local anesthetic, Brachial plexus, Nerve block


Object Contralateral C-7 nerve transfer was developed for the treatment of patients with brachial plexus avulsion injury (BPAI). In the surgical procedure the affected recipient nerve is connected to the ipsilateral motor cortex, and the dramatic peripheral alteration may trigger extensive cortical reorganization. However, little is known about the long-term results after such specific nerve transfers. The purpose of this study was to investigate the long-term cortical adaptive plasticity after BPAI and contralateral C-7 nerve transfer. Methods In this study, 9 healthy male volunteers and 5 male patients who suffered from right-sided BPAI and had undergone contralateral C-7-transfer more than 5 years earlier were included. Functional MRI studies were used for the investigation of long-term cerebral plasticity. Results The neuroimaging results suggested that the ongoing cortical remodeling process after contralateral C-7 nerve transfer could last for a long period; at least for 5 years. The motor control of the reinnervated limb may finally transfer from the ipsilateral to the contralateral hemisphere exclusively, instead of the bilateral neural network activation. Conclusions The authors believe that the cortical remodeling may last for a long period after peripheral rearrangement and that the successful cortical transfer is the foundation of the independent motor recovery.

Concepts: Nervous system, Time, Surgery, Neuroscience, Cerebral cortex, Anatomy, Motor skill, Brachial plexus