Send to

Choose Destination
J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2012 Sep;65(9):1227-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2012.03.037. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Is the term "obstetrical brachial plexus palsy" obsolete? An international survey to assess consensus among peripheral nerve surgeons.

Author information

Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Ave, Toronto ON M5G 1X8, Canada.



Brachial plexus injury diagnosed following delivery often causes lifelong disability and frequently results in litigation. While there is no universally accepted name for this condition, the term 'obstetrical brachial plexus palsy' (OBPP) is commonly used worldwide. The difficulty with the term 'OBPP' lies with the use of the word 'obstetrical', which some have construed to imply obstetrical malpractice even if none occurred. Many regions, especially in the United States, are suffering increasing obstetrician shortages, sometimes as a result of unsustainable liability insurance premiums. We wanted to determine whether surgeons felt that an alternative to the term 'OBPP' was more appropriate.


We surveyed peripheral nerve surgeons worldwide to determine the appropriateness of the term 'OBPP' and alternative terms.


The majority of US-based surgeons (94%) preferred alternative terms, such as 'neonatal brachial plexus palsy'. However, only 53% of surgeons from other regions preferred alternative terms. This difference was statistically significant (p < 0.0002).


More precise and descriptive alternatives to the term 'OBPP' are available and acceptable to many surgeons. An alternative to 'OBPP' may improve communication between practitioners, families and the legal system, especially in the United States. Our peripheral nerve organisations may be able to provide further leadership on this matter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center