When considering traumatic brachial plexus and upper extremity nerve injuries, iatrogenic nerve injuries, and nontraumatic nerve injuries, brachial plexus and upper extremity nerve injuries are commonly encountered in clinical practice. Despite this, data synthesis and comparison of available studies are difficult. This is at least in part due to the lack of standardization in reporting and a lack of a core outcome set (COS). Thus, there is a need for a COS for adult brachial plexus and upper extremity nerve injuries (COS-BPUE). The objective of this study was to develop a COS-BPUE using a modified Delphi approach.
A 5-stage approach was used to develop the COS-BPUE: 1) consortium development, 2) literature review to identify potential outcome measures, 3) Delphi survey to develop consensus on outcomes for inclusion, 4) Delphi survey to develop definitions, and 5) consensus meeting to finalize the COS and definitions. The study followed the Core Outcome Set-STAndards for Development (COS-STAD) recommendations.
The Core Outcomes in Nerve Surgery (COINS) Consortium comprised 23 participants, all neurological surgeons, representing 13 countries. The final COS-BPUE consisted of 36 data points/outcomes covering demographic, diagnostic, patient-reported outcome, motor/sensory outcome, and complication domains. Appropriate instruments, methods of testing, and definitions were set. The consensus minimum duration of follow-up was 24 months, with the consensus optimal time points for assessment being preoperatively and 3, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively.
The COINS Consortium developed a consensus COS and provided definitions, methods of implementation, and time points for assessment. The COS-BPUE should serve as a minimum set of data that should be collected in all future neurosurgical studies on adult brachial plexus and upper extremity nerve injuries. Incorporation of this COS should help improve consistency in reporting, data synthesis, and comparability, and should minimize outcome reporting bias.