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  • Author or Editor: Sherman C. Stein x
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Zarina S. Ali, Eric L. Zager, Gregory G. Heuer and Sherman C. Stein

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Willem Pondaag and Martijn J. A. Malessy

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Zarina S. Ali, Gregory G. Heuer, Ryan W. F. Faught, Shriya H. Kaneriya, Umar A. Sheikh, Idrees S. Syed, Sherman C. Stein and Eric L. Zager

OBJECT

Adult upper trunk brachial plexus injuries result in significant disability. Several surgical treatment strategies exist, including nerve grafting, nerve transfers, and a combination of both approaches. However, no existing data clearly indicate the most successful strategy for restoring elbow flexion and shoulder abduction in these patients. The authors reviewed the literature to compare outcomes of the three surgical repair techniques listed above to determine the optimal approach to traumatic injury to the upper brachial plexus in adults.

METHODS

Both PubMed and EMBASE databases were searched for English-language articles containing the MeSH topic “brachial plexus” in conjunction with the word “injury” or “trauma” in the title and “surgery” or “repair” as a MeSH subheading or in the title, excluding pediatric articles and those articles limited to avulsions. The search was also limited to articles published after 1990 and containing at least 10 operated cases involving upper brachial plexus injuries. The search was supplemented with articles obtained through the “Related Articles” feature on PubMed and the bibliographies of selected publications. From the articles was collected information on the operation performed, number of operated cases, mean subject ages, sex distribution, interval between injury and surgery, source of nerve transfers, mean duration of follow-up, year of publication, and percentage of operative success in terms of elbow flexion and shoulder abduction of the injured limb. The recovery of elbow flexion and shoulder abduction was separately analyzed. A subanalysis was also performed to assess the recovery of elbow flexion following various neurotization techniques.

RESULTS

As regards the restoration of elbow flexion, nerve grafting led to significantly better outcomes than either nerve transfer or the combined techniques (F = 4.71, p = 0.0097). However, separating the Oberlin procedure from other neurotization techniques revealed that the former was significantly more successful (F = 82.82, p < 0.001). Moreover, in comparing the Oberlin procedure to nerve grafting or combined procedures, again the former was significantly more successful than either of the latter two approaches (F = 53.14; p < 0.001). In the restoration of shoulder abduction, nerve transfer was significantly more successful than the combined procedure (p = 0.046), which in turn was significantly better than nerve grafting procedures (F = 5.53, p = 0.0044).

CONCLUSIONS

According to data in this study, in upper trunk brachial plexus injuries in adults, the Oberlin procedure and nerve transfers are the more successful approaches to restore elbow flexion and shoulder abduction, respectively, compared with nerve grafting or combined techniques. A prospective, randomized controlled trial would be necessary to fully elucidate differences in outcome among the various surgical approaches.

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Zarina S. Ali, Dara Bakar, Yun R. Li, Alex Judd, Hiren Patel, Eric L. Zager, Gregory G. Heuer and Sherman C. Stein

Object

Neonatal brachial plexus palsy (NBPP) represents a significant health problem with potentially devastating consequences. The most common form of NBPP involves the upper trunk roots. Currently, primary surgical repair is performed if clinical improvement is lacking. There has been increasing interest in “early” surgical repair of NBPPs, occurring within 3–6 months of life. However, early treatment recommendations ignore spontaneous recovery in cases of Erb's palsy. This study was undertaken to evaluate the optimal timing of surgical repair in this group with respect to quality of life.

Methods

The authors formulated a decision analytical model to compare 4 treatment strategies (no repair or repair at 3, 6, or 12 months of life) for infants with persistent NBPPs. The model derives data from a critical review of published studies and projects health-related quality of life and quality-adjusted life years over a lifetime.

Results

When evaluating the quality of life of infants with NBPP, improved outcomes are seen with delayed surgical repair at 12 months, compared with no repair or repair at early and intermediate time points, at 3 and 6 months, respectively. ANOVA showed that the differences among the 4 groups are highly significant (F = 8369; p < 0.0001). Pairwise post hoc comparisons revealed that there are highly significant differences between each pair of strategies (p < 0.0001). Meta-regression showed no evidence of improved outcomes with more recent treatment dates, compared with older ones, for either nonsurgical or for surgical treatment (p = 0.767 and p = 0.865, respectively).

Conclusions

These data support a delayed approach of primary surgical reconstruction to optimize quality of life. Early surgery for NBPPs may be an overly aggressive strategy for infants who would otherwise demonstrate spontaneous recovery of function by 12 months. A randomized, controlled trial would be necessary to fully elucidate the natural history of NBPP and determine the optimal time point for surgical intervention.

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Zarina S. Ali, Robert L. Bailey, Lawrence B. Daniels, Venus Vakhshori, Daniel J. Lewis, Alisha T. Hossain, Karlyndsay Y. Sitterley, John Y. K. Lee, Phillip B. Storm, Gregory G. Heuer and Sherman C. Stein

Object

No clear treatment guidelines for pediatric craniopharyngiomas exist. The authors developed a decision analytical model to evaluate outcomes of 4 surgical approaches for craniopharyngiomas in children, including attempted gross-total resection (GTR), planned subtotal removal plus radiotherapy, biopsy plus radiotherapy, and endoscopic resections of all kinds.

Methods

Pooled data, including the authors' own experience, were used to create evidence tables, from which incidence, relative risks, and summary outcomes in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were calculated for the 4 management strategies.

Results

Quality-adjusted life years at the 5-year follow-up were 2.3 ± 0.1 for attempted GTR, 2.9 ± 0.2 for planned subtotal removal plus radiotherapy, 3.9 ± 0.2 for biopsy plus radiotherapy, and 3.7 ± 0.2 for endoscopic resection (F = 17,150, p < 0.001). Similarly, QALYs at 10-year follow-up were 4.5 ± 0.2 for attempted GTR, 5.7 ± 0.5 for planned subtotal removal plus radiotherapy, and 7.8 ± 0.5 for biopsy plus radiotherapy (F = 6,173, p < 0.001). On post hoc pairwise comparisons, the differences between all pairs compared were also highly significant (p < 0.001). Since follow-up data at 10 years are lacking for endoscopic cases, this category was excluded from 10-year comparisons.

Conclusions

Biopsy with subsequent radiotherapy is the preferred approach with respect to improved overall quality of life. While endoscopic approaches also show promise in preserving quality of life at five-year follow-up, there are not sufficient data to draw conclusions about this comparison at 10 years.