Evidence suggests that patients with brachial plexus birth injury are more likely to retain midline function following a teres major tendon transfer without a concomitant latissimus dorsi transfer. Both procedures increase shoulder external rotation and abduction, but whether increased loss of midline frequency following double transfer is due to glenohumeral (GH) joint motion or scapulothoracic (ST) compensation is unknown. We hypothesized that double tendon transfers would exhibit greater GH external rotation than single tendon transfers, thus requiring greater ST rotation to internally rotate the shoulder, while GH and ST contributions to elevation remained equivalent between both groups.
Twenty-six postsurgical children with C5/C6 brachial plexus birth injuries participated in this study. Thirteen patients with single tendon transfers were matched with 13 with double tendon transfer. Coordinate systems of the thorax, scapula, and humerus were measured utilizing motion capture in 6 arm positions. Joint angles were calculated by the helical (ST) and modified globe method (GH and humerothoracic [HT]). Differences between groups were compared with repeated measures of multivariate analyses of variance for each position. Pending significant multivariate analyses of variance, univariate analyses of variance determined joint differences between transfer groups.
Joint rotations from neutral were similar between groups in 5 of 6 tested positions, with double tendon transfers consistently demonstrating 15°–20˚ more internal rotation at the GH and HT joints. Still, only the internal rotation position showed statistically significant differences in GH and HT joint angles. The ST joint angles were similar in this position (45.2˚ and 48.5˚).
The arc of motion for patients with double tendon transfer was more internally rotated than in patients with single tendon transfer at the GH and HT joints for all positions. However, both groups demonstrated little active rotation from neutral. Based on this data, teres major-only tendon transfers may not reduce the risk of loss of midline function.
Type of study/level of evidence
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Published online: September 03, 2021
Accepted: June 18, 2021
Received: January 4, 2021
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
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