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Injury. 2014 Jan;45(1):223-6. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.05.013. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Injuries associated with serious brachial plexus involvement in polytrauma among patients requiring surgical repair.

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3(rd) Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Department of Neurosurgery, Faculty Hospital Kralovske Vinohrady, Srobarova 50, 100 34 Prague, Czech Republic. Electronic address:



Brachial plexus injury occurs in up to 5% of polytrauma cases involving motorcycle crashes and in approximately 4% of severe winter sports injuries. One of the conditions for the success of operative therapy is early detection, ideally within three months of injury. The aim of this study was to evaluate associated injuries in patients with severe brachial plexus injury and determine whether there is a characteristic concomitant injury (or injuries), the presence of which, in the polytrauma, could act as a marker for nerve structures involvement and whether there are differences in severity of polytrauma accompanying specific types of brachial plexus injury.


We evaluated retrospectively 84 surgical patients from our department, from 2008 to 2011, that had undergone brachial plexus reconstruction. For all, an injury severity scale (ISS) score and all major associated injuries were determined.


72% of patients had an upper, 26% had a complete and only 2% had a lower brachial plexus palsy. The main cause was motorcycle crashes (60%) followed by car crashes (15%). The average ISS was 35.2 (SD=23.3), although, values were significantly higher in cases involving a coma (59.3, SD=11.0). The lower and complete plexus injuries were significantly associated with coma and fractures of the shoulder girdle and injuries of lower limbs, thoracic organs and head. Upper plexus injuries were associated with somewhat less severe injuries of the upper and lower extremities and less severe injuries of the spine.


Serious brachial plexus injury is usually accompanied by other severe injuries. It occurs in high-energy trauma and it can be stated that patients involved in motorcycle and car crashes with multiple fractures of the shoulder girdle are at high risk of nerve trauma. This is especially true for patients in a primary coma. Lower and complete brachial plexus injuries are associated with higher injury severity scale.


Brachial plexus injury; Polytrauma; Root avulsion; Traffic injury

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