R. Shane Tubbs, Robert G. Louis Jr., Christopher T. Wartmann, Robert Lott, Gina D. Chua, David Kelly, Cheryl Ann Palmer, Mohamadali M. Shoja, Marios Loukas and W. Jerry Oakes
To the best of the authors' knowledge, no report exists that has demonstrated the histopathological changes of neural elements within the brachial plexus as a result of cervical rib compression.
Four hundred seventy-five consecutive human cadavers were evaluated for the presence of cervical ribs. From this cohort, 2 male specimens (0.42%) were identified that harbored cervical ribs. One of the cadavers was found to have bilateral cervical ribs and the other a single right cervical rib. Following gross observations of the brachial plexus and, specifically, the lower trunk and its relationship to these anomalous ribs, the lower trunks were submitted for immunohistochemical analysis. Specimens were compared with two age-matched controls that did not have cervical ribs.
The compressed plexus trunks were largely unremarkable proximal to the areas of compression by cervical ribs, where they demonstrated epi- and perineurial fibrosis, vascular hyalinization, mucinous degeneration, and frequent intraneural collagenous nodules. These histological findings were not seen in the nerve specimens in control cadavers. The epineurium was thickened with intersecting fibrous bands, and the perineurium appeared fibrotic. Many of the blood vessels were hyalinized. The nerve fascicles contained frequent intraneural collagenous nodules in this area, and focal mucinous degeneration was identified.
Cervical ribs found incidentally may cause histological changes in the lower trunk of the brachial plexus. The clinician may wish to observe or perform further evaluation in such patients.
R. Shane Tubbs, Robert G. Louis Jr., Christopher T. Wartmann, Marios Loukas, Mohammadali M. Shoja, Mohammad R. Ardalan and W. Jerry Oakes
Facial nerve injury with resultant facial muscle paralysis is disfiguring and disabling. To the auhtors' knowledge, neurotization of the facial nerve using a branch of the brachial plexus has not been previously performed.
In an attempt to identify an additional nerve donor candidate for facial nerve neurotization, 5 fresh adult human cadavers (10 sides) underwent dissection of the suprascapular nerve distal to the suprascapular notch where it was transected. The facial nerve was localized from the stylomastoid foramen onto the face, and the cut end of the suprascapular nerve was tunneled to this location. Measurements were made of the length and diameter of the supra-scapular nerve. In 2 of these specimens prior to transection of the nerve, a nerve-splitting technique was used.
All specimens were found to have a suprascapular nerve with enough length to be tunneled, tension free, superiorly to the extracranial facial nerve. Connections remained tensionless with left and right head rotation of up to 45°. The mean length of this part of the suprascapular nerve was 12.5 cm (range 11.5–14 cm). The mean diameter of this nerve was 3 mm. A nerve-splitting technique was also easily performed. No gross evidence of injury to surrounding neurovascular structures was identified.
To the authors' knowledge, the suprascapular nerve has not been previously explored as a donor nerve for facial nerve reanimation procedures. Based on the results of this cadaveric study, the authors believe that use of the suprascapular nerve may be considered for surgical maneuvers.