The aim of this retrospective study was to present and investigate axillary nerve injuries associated with sports.
This study retrospectively reviewed 26 axillary nerve injuries associated with sports between the years 1985 and 2010. Preoperative status of the axillary nerve was evaluated by using the Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSUHSC) grading system published by the senior authors. Intraoperative nerve action potential recordings were performed to check nerve conduction and assess the possibility of resection. Neurolysis, suture, and nerve grafts were used for the surgical repair of the injured nerves. In 9 patients with partial loss of function and 3 with complete loss, neurolysis based on nerve action potential recordings was the primary treatment. Two patients with complete loss of function were treated with resection and suturing and 12 with resection and nerve grafting. The minimum follow-up period was 16 months (mean 20 months).
The injuries were associated with the following sports: skiing (12 cases), football (5), rugby (2), baseball (2), ice hockey (2), soccer (1), weightlifting (1), and wrestling (1). Functional recovery was excellent. Neurolysis was performed in 9 cases, resulting in an average functional recovery of LSUHSC Grade 4.2. Recovery with graft repairs averaged LSUHSC Grade 3 or better in 11 of 12 cases
Surgical repair can restore useful deltoid function in patients with sports-associated axillary nerve injuries, even in cases of severe stretch–contusion injury.