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Leandro Pretto Flores

Object

Anatomical and functional assessment of the intradural segment of the spinal nerves is imperative in brachial plexus surgery, as the repair of postganglionic elements in the setting of a confirmed nerve root avulsion is of no benefit. None of the current techniques to detect these avulsions can provide full information that ensures the functional status of the preganglionic segment of the roots. The objective of this study was to evaluate intraoperative electrical stimulation of the supraclavicular segment of the long thoracic nerve (LTN) as a method to differentiate C-5 nerve root extraforaminal rupture from its intradural avulsion.

Methods

The author performed a prospective analysis of data obtained in 14 patients presenting with the loss of C-5 nerve root function secondary to traumatic brachial plexus injury. The patients were divided into 2 groups: 8 patients in whom the intradural segment of C-5 nerve root was preserved (5 cases of closed traction injuries in whom the computed tomography [CT] myelograms confirmed the integrity of C-5 root and 3 cases of open sharp injuries) and a control group of 6 patients in whom CT myelography demonstrated avulsion of the root.

Results

The results of the intraoperative electrical stimulation of the LTN and the surgical outcome of each patient were recorded. The LTN electrical stimulation elicited serratus anterior muscle contraction in cases in which C-5 root was not avulsed, and there were no responses in patients whose radiological evaluation had demonstrated nerve root avulsion. In those patients in whom LTN stimulation proved to be positive, the C-5 root was used as a graftable stump to the suprascapular nerve and/or to the posterior division of the superior trunk. In these cases, favorable results were observed regarding arm abduction in all cases—Medical Research Council Grades M3 (37%) and M4 (62%). In the control group, the C-5 root was not used as a donor stump and a multiple nerve transfer technique was adopted as the preferred surgical option.

Conclusions

Intraoperative electrical stimulation of the supraclavicular segment of the LTN is a useful complementary method to test the functional status of the C-5 ventral rootlets. If the test is positive (that is, a response is present) it is indicative of extraforaminal rupture of the root, and if negative, it is suggestive of its avulsion.

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Leandro Pretto Flores

Iatrogenic injury to the spinal accessory nerve is one of the most common causes of trapezius muscle palsy. Dysfunction of this muscle can be a painful and disabling condition because scapular winging may impose traction on the soft tissues of the shoulder region, including the suprascapular nerve. There are few reports regarding therapeutic options for an intracranial injury of the accessory nerve. However, the surgical release of the suprascapular nerve at the level of the scapular notch is a promising alternative approach for treatment of shoulder pain in these cases. The author reports on 3 patients presenting with signs and symptoms of unilateral accessory nerve injury following resection of posterior fossa tumors. A posterior approach was used to release the suprascapular nerve at the level of the scapular notch, transecting the superior transverse scapular ligament. All patients experienced relief of their shoulder and scapular pain following the decompressive surgery. In 1 patient the primary dorsal branch of the C-2 nerve root was transferred to the extracranial segment of the accessory nerve, and in the other 2 patients a tendon transfer (the Eden–Lange procedure) was used. Results from this report show that surgical release of the suprascapular nerve is an effective treatment for shoulder and periscapular pain in patients who have sustained an unrepairable injury to the accessory nerve.

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Leandro Pretto Flores, Thiago F. P. Cavalcante, Oswaldo R. M. Neto and Fabiano S. Alcântara

Object

Previous studies have demonstrated that the volume of the carpal canal increases after open and endoscopic surgery in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. There is some controversy regarding the contribution of the postoperative widening of the carpal arch to the increment in carpal canal volume. The objectives of this study were to: 1) evaluate the degree of variation in the angles formed by the borders of the carpal arch following the surgical division of the transverse carpal ligament; and 2) determine if there are differences in the variation of these angles after the classical open surgery versus endoscopic carpal tunnel release.

Methods

The authors prospectively studied 20 patients undergoing carpal tunnel syndrome surgery: 10 patients were treated via the standard open technique, and 10 underwent endoscopic carpal tunnel release. The angles of the carpal arch were measured on CT scans of the affected hand obtained before and immediately after the surgical procedures. Measurements were performed at the level of the pisiform-scaphoid hiatus and at the level of the hook of the hamate-trapezium hiatus.

Results

There was widening of the postoperative angles of the carpal arch after open and endoscopic division of the flexor retinaculum; however, the difference between pre- and postoperative angulations reached statistical significance only in those patients treated by means of the open procedure. The mean (± SD) values for the postoperative increase in the angles at the level of the pisiform-scaphoid hiatus were 5.1 ± 0.4° after open surgery and 2.5 ± 0.3° after the endoscopically assisted procedure (p < 0.05). At the level of the hook of the hamate-trapezium hiatus, the mean values for the widening of the angles were 6.2 ± 0.6° for the open surgery group and 1.2 ± 0.4° for those patients treated by means of the endoscopic technique (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

The widening of the postoperative angles of the carpal arch is a phenomenon observed at the proximal and distal levels of the carpal canal, and it can be noted after both open and endoscopically assisted carpal tunnel release. The endoscopic procedure yielded less increase in these angles than the open surgery.

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Leandro Pretto Flores

Object

Recent advancements in operative treatment of the brachial plexus authorized more extensive repairs and, currently, elbow extension can be included in the rank of desirable functions to be restored. This study aims to describe the author's experience in using the medial pectoral nerve for reinnervation of the triceps brachii in patients sustaining C5–7 palsies of the brachial plexus.

Methods

This is a retrospective study of the outcomes regarding recovery of elbow extension in 12 patients who underwent transfer of the medial pectoral nerve to the radial nerve or to the branch of the long head of the triceps.

Results

The radial nerve was targeted in 3 patients, and the branch to the long head of the triceps was targeted in 9. Grafts were used in 6 patients. Outcomes assessed as Medical Research Council Grades M4 and M3 for elbow extension were noted in 7 (58%) and 5 (42%) patients, respectively.

Conclusions

The medial pectoral nerve is a reliable donor for elbow extension recovery in patients who have sustained C5–7 nerve root injuries.