Editor's Choice| Volume 47, ISSUE 3, P237-246, March 2022

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Reconstruction of C5–C8 (T1 Hand) Brachial Plexus Paralysis in a Series of 52 Patients

  • Jayme A. Bertelli
    Corresponding author: Jayme A. Bertelli, MD, PhD, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Governador Celso Ramos Hospital, Rua Newton Ramos 70, Apto 901, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina 88015395, Brazil.
    Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Governador Celso Ramos Hospital, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

    Department of Neurosurgery, Nossa Senhora da Conceição Hospital, Tubarão, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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  • Marcos F. Ghizoni
    Department of Neurosurgery, Nossa Senhora da Conceição Hospital, Tubarão, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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Published:January 08, 2022DOI:


      A C5–C8 brachial plexus root injury, also known as a T1 hand, is associated with paralysis of shoulder abduction or external rotation and elbow flexion, accompanied by variable elbow, wrist, thumb, or finger extension deficits. We report the results of reconstruction for C5–C8 brachial plexus paralysis in 52 patients operated upon within 12 months of injury and having at least 24 months of follow-up.


      We considered surgery to be indicated if, by the fifth month after trauma, shoulder abduction and external rotation and elbow flexion remained paralyzed. Root grafting was possible in 35% of the patients and was performed concomitantly with nerve transfers. Shoulder motion was reconstructed by transferring the spinal accessory to the suprascapular nerve. Elbow flexion was restored by transferring fascicles from either the median or ulnar nerve to the biceps motor branch. When needed, elbow extension was reconstructed by transferring 1 motor branch of the flexor carpi ulnaris to the triceps lower medial head motor branch. Wrist extension was restored by transferring the distal anterior interosseous nerve to the extensor carpi radialis brevis motor branch.


      Within 12 months of injury, we observed preserved or spontaneous recovery of elbow, wrist, finger, and thumb extension in 25%, 12%, 50%, and 68% of patients, respectively. After surgical reconstruction, improved range of motion for shoulder, elbow flexion, and wrist extension scoring at least M3 was present in 90% of our patients. All 10 patients in whom a motor branch of the flexor carpi ulnaris was used for triceps reconstruction recovered elbow extension, while flexor carpi ulnaris function was preserved.


      In approximatively 90% of our patients, distal nerve transfers resulted in functional recovery of shoulder abduction, elbow flexion or extension, and wrist extension.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Therapeutic IV.

      Key words

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