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Neurosurgery. 2008 Mar;62(3):656-63; discussion 656-63. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000317314.54450.79.

Results of end-to-side nerve coaptation in severe obstetric brachial plexus lesions.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.



Options for nerve repair are limited in brachial plexus lesions with multiple root avulsions because an insufficient number of proximal nerve stumps are available to serve as lead-out for nerve grafts. End-to-side nerve repair might be an alternative surgical technique for repair of such severe lesions. In this technique, an epineurial window is created in a healthy nerve, and the distal stump of the injured nerve is coapted to this site. Inconsistent results of end-to-side nerve repairs in traumatic nerve lesions in adults have been reported in small series. This article evaluates the results of end-to-side nerve repair in obstetric brachial plexus lesions and reviews the literature.


A retrospective analysis was performed of 20 end-to-side repairs in 12 infants. Evaluation of functional recovery of the target muscle was performed after at least 2 years of follow up (mean, 33 mo).


Five repairs failed (25%). Seven times (35%) good function (Medical Research Council at least 3) of the target muscle occurred in addition to eight partial recoveries (40%). In the majority of patients, however, the observed recovery cannot be exclusively attributed to the end-to-side repair. The reinnervation may be based on axonal outgrowth through grafted or neurolyzed adjacent nerves. It seems likely that recovery was solely based on the end-to-side repair in only two patients. No deficits occurred in donor nerve function.


This study does not convincingly show that the end-to-side nerve repair in infants with an obstetric brachial plexus lesion is effective. Its use cannot be recommended as standard therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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