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Madjid Samii, Gustavo A. Carvalho, Guido Nikkhah and Götz Penkert

✓ Over the last 16 years, 345 surgical reconstructions of the brachial plexus were performed using nerve grafting or neurotization techniques in the Neurosurgical Department at the Nordstadt Hospital, Hannover, Germany. Sixty-five patients underwent graft placement between the C-5 and C-6 root and the musculocutaneous nerve to restore the flexion of the arm. A retrospective study was conducted, including statistical evaluation of the following pre- and intraoperative parameters in 54 patients: 1) time interval between injury and surgery; 2) choice of the donor nerve (C-5 or C-6 root); and 3) length of the grafts used for repairs between the C-5 or C-6 root and the musculocutaneous nerve.

The postoperative follow-up interval ranged from 9 months to 14.6 years, with a mean ± standard deviation of 4.4 ± 3 years. Reinnervation of the biceps muscle was found in 61% of the patients. Comparison of the different preoperative time intervals (1–6 months, 7–12 months, and > 12 months) showed a significantly better outcome in those patients with a preoperative delay of less than 7 months (p < 0.05). Reinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was demonstrated in 76% of the patients who underwent surgery within the first 6 months postinjury, in 60% of the patients with a delay of between 6 and 12 months, and in only 25% of the patients who underwent surgery after 12 months. Comparison of the final outcome according to the root (C-5 or C-6) that was used for grafting the musculocutaneous nerve showed no statistical difference.

Furthermore, statistical analysis (regression test) of the length of the grafts between the donor (C-5 or C-6 root) nerve and the musculocutaneous nerve displayed an inverse relationship between the graft length and the postoperative outcome.

Together, these results provide additional information to enhance the functional outcome of brachial plexus surgery.

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Madjid Samii, Gustavo A. Carvalho, Guido Nikkhah and Götz Penkert

Over the last 16 years, 345 surgical reconstructions of the brachial plexus were performed using nerve grafting or neurotization techniques in the Neurosurgical Department at the Nordstadt Hospital, Hannover, Germany. Sixty-five patients underwent graft placement between the C-5 and C-6 root and the musculocutaneous nerve to restore the flexion of the arm. A retrospective study was conducted, including statistical evaluation of the following pre- and intraoperative parameters in 54 patients: 1) time interval between injury and surgery; 2) choice of the donor nerve (C-5 or C-6 root); and 3) length of the grafts used for repairs between the C-5 or C-6 root and the musculocutaneous nerve.

The postoperative follow-up interval ranged from 9 months to 14.6 years, with a mean ± standard deviation of 4.4 ± 3 years. Reinnervation of the biceps muscle was found in 61% of the patients. Comparison of the different preoperative time intervals (1-6 months, 7-12 months, and > 12 months) showed a significantly better outcome in those patients with a preoperative delay of less than 7 months (p < 0.05). Reinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was demonstrated in 76% of the patients who underwent surgery within the first 6 months postinjury, in 60% of the patients with a delay of between 6 and 12 months, and in only 25% of the patients who underwent surgery after 12 months. Comparison of the final outcome according to the root (C-5 or C-6) that was used for grafting the musculocutaneous nerve showed no statistical difference.

Furthermore, statistical analysis (regression test) of the length of the grafts between the donor (C-5 or C-6 root) nerve and the musculocutaneous nerve displayed an inverse relationship between the graft length and the postoperative outcome.

Together, these results provide additional information to enhance the functional outcome of brachial plexus surgery.

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Gustavo Adolpho Carvalho, Guido Nikkhah, Cordula Matthies, Götz Penkert and Madjid Samii

✓ Surgical management and prognosis of traction injuries of the brachial plexus depend on the accurate diagnosis of root avulsion from the spinal cord. Myelography, computerized tomography (CT) myelography, and recently magnetic resonance (MR) imaging have become the main radiological methods for preoperative diagnosis of cervical root avulsions. Most of the previous studies on the accuracy of CT myelography and MR imaging studies have correlated the radiological findings with the extraspinal surgical findings at brachial plexus surgery. Surgical experience shows that in many cases extraspinal findings diverge from intradural determinations. Consequently, only correlation with the intradural surgical findings will allow assessment of the factual accuracy of CT myelography and MR imaging studies.

In a prospective study, 135 cervical roots (C5–8) were evaluated by CT myelography and/or MR imaging and further explored intradurally via a hemilaminectomy. The accuracy of the preoperative CT myelography—based diagnosis in relation to the intraoperative findings was 85%. On the other hand, MR imaging demonstrated an accuracy of only 52%. The most common reasons for false-positive or false-negative findings were: 1) partial rootlet avulsion; 2) intradural fibrosis; and 3) dural cystic lesions. Computerized tomography myelography scans using 1- to 3-mm axial slices prove to be the most reliable method to evaluate preoperatively the presence of complete or partial root avulsion in traumatic brachial plexus injuries.

Because extradural judgment of cervical root avulsion can be unreliable, accurate assessment of intraspinal root avulsion enormously simplifies the decision concerning the choice of donor nerves for transplantation and/or neurotization during brachial plexus surgery.