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Functional Evaluation of Levator Scapulae Tendon to Supraspinatus in Adult Brachial Plexus Injuries
Introduction Brachial plexus injuries are severe life-altering injuries. The surgical method to restore shoulder abduction in adult upper brachial plexus injuries involves the usage of nerve grafts and nerve transfers targeting the suprascapular and/or the axillary nerve. When the primary nerve surgery has been unsuccessful or recovery has been incomplete or with a late presentation, muscle transfer procedures are needed to provide or improve shoulder abduction. Levator scapulae to supraspinatus is a transfer to improve shoulder abduction in posttraumatic brachial plexus injuries.
Material and Methods The study included 13 patients with the age ranging from 17 to 47 years with a mean age of 30 years. All these patients had preop shoulder abduction of Medical Research Council (MRC) grade ≤3. All had a minimum of MRC grade 4 of active elbow flexion. Eleven patients had primary surgery. Only patients with a minimum of 1 year postoperative follow-up were included. All 13 patients underwent levator scapulae transfer only.
Results All patients had a stable shoulder postoperatively. The average increase in active shoulder abduction was from 6.15°(median: 0°) preoperatively to 61.92°(median: 60°), with an average gain in shoulder abduction of 49.61°(median: 50°).
Conclusions Transfer of levator scapulae tendon to the supraspinatus is an option to improve shoulder abduction in posttraumatic brachial plexus. In conditions where supraspinatus alone is not functioning, levator scapulae is the best available transfer, considering its strength and maintaining the form of the shoulder unlike trapezius transfer. In patients with previous surgery where supraspinatus has recovered partially but not functionally significant, this tendon transfer can be considered for the augmentation of the existing shoulder abduction.
08 February 2021 (online)
© 2021. Association of Plastic Surgeons of India. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
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