Combined Radial to Axillary and Spinal Accessory Nerve (SAN) to Suprascapular Nerve (SSN) Transfers May Confer Superior Shoulder Abduction Compared with Single SA to SSN Transfer.


Department of Neurosurgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : The restoration of shoulder function after brachial plexus injury is a high priority. Shoulder abduction and stabilization can be achieved by nerve transfer procedures including spinal accessory nerve (SAN) to suprascapular nerve (SSN) and radial to axillary nerve transfer. The objective of this study is to compare functional outcomes after SAN to SSN transfer versus the combined radial to axillary and SA to SSN transfer.
METHODS : This retrospective chart review included 14 consecutive patients with brachial plexus injury who underwent SAN to SSN transfer, 4 of whom had both SA to SSN and radial to axillary nerve transfer.
RESULTS : SAN to SSN transfer achieved successful shoulder abduction (≥M3) in 64.3% of this cohort (9/14). During the long-term follow-up, patients achieved an average increase of 67.5° in shoulder abduction. There was no association between motor recovery and time from injury to surgery, age, body mass index (BMI), sex, or smoking status. The 4 patients who had SAN to SSN combined with radial to axillary nerve transfer demonstrated a statistically significant increase in the range of abduction (median, 90° vs. 42.5°, respectively; P = 0.022) compared with those who had SAN to SSN transfer alone; however, the difference in Medical Research Council (MRC) grades (MRC > M3) did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.07).
CONCLUSIONS : Patients with brachial plexus injury and an intact C7 root could benefit from radial to axillary transfer in addition to SAN to SSN transfer. There was no association between recovery of shoulder abduction and time interval from injury to surgery, age, sex, smoking, and BMI.


Axillary,Brachial plexus injury,Nerve transfer,Radial,Shoulder abduction,Spinal accessory,Suprascapular,

OUR Recent Articles