Axillary nerve injury in young adults-An overlooked diagnosis? Early results of nerve reconstruction and nerve transfers.

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Abstract

An injury to the axillary nerve from a shoulder trauma can easily be overlooked. Spontaneous functional recovery may occur, but occasionally reconstructive surgery is required. The time frame for nerve reconstruction procedures is from a neurobiological view crucial for a good functional outcome. This study presents a group of operatively and non-operatively treated young adults with axillary nerve injuries caused by motorcycle accidents, where the diagnosis was set late. Ten young men (median age at trauma 13 years, range 9-24) with an axillary nerve injury were diagnosed by examination of shoulder function and electromyography (EMG). The patients had either a nerve reconstruction procedure or were treated conservatively and their recovery was monitored. The axillary nerve was explored and reconstructed at a median of 8 months (range 1-22 months) after trauma in 8/10 patients. Two patients were treated non-operatively. In 4/8 cases, a reconstruction with sural nerve graft was performed and in 1/8 case only exploration of the nerve was made (minor neuroma). In 3/8 cases a radial nerve branch transfer to the axillary nerve was chosen as the procedure. The shoulder was mobilised after 3 weeks with physiotherapy and the patients were monitored regularly. Functional recovery was observed in 9/10 cases (median follow up 11 months, range 7-64) with EMG signs of reinnervation in seven patients. Axillary nerve function should not be overlooked in young patients with a minor shoulder trauma. Nerve reconstruction can successfully recreate function.

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  • Surgery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-261
JournalJournal of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery
Volume46
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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