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J Hand Surg Am. 2014 May;39(5):948-55.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.01.022. Epub 2014 Mar 5.

Patient satisfaction and self-reported outcomes after complete brachial plexus avulsion injury.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI.
2
Department of Surgery, Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI. Electronic address: kecchung@med.umich.edu.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Reconstructive surgery for complete brachial plexus avulsion injuries only partially restores function, and many patients are dissatisfied with results that surgeons consider good. Preoperative expectations have been shown to influence postoperative satisfaction but are poorly understood in patients with complete brachial plexus avulsion injuries. Qualitative methodology can elucidate patient beliefs and attitudes, which are difficult to quantify. The purpose of this study was to examine patient-reported outcomes, including satisfaction, and to understand the patient perspective.

METHODS:

We used qualitative interviews and questionnaires to assess patient-reported outcomes. Two members of the research team analyzed interview data using Grounded Theory methodology. Data from participants who had and did not have reconstructive surgery were compared.

RESULTS:

Twelve patients participated in this study. Of the 7 participants who had reconstructive surgery, 4 felt their expectations had been met and 5 were satisfied with their outcomes. Reconstruction did not produce statistically significant improvements in upper extremity function, pain, or work ability. All patients reported dissatisfaction with upper extremity ability, and 9 expressed hope for innovative treatments (e.g., stem cell therapy, nerve reinsertion) that could potentially provide better outcomes than existing procedures and enable return to work.

CONCLUSIONS:

Satisfaction with surgical outcomes after complete avulsion brachial plexus injury depends heavily on whether preoperative expectations are met, but patients are unfamiliar with nerve avulsion and do not always know what to expect. Low satisfaction with upper extremity ability and the lack of statistically significant differences produced by reconstruction suggest that current treatments may not be meeting patients' needs. Physicians must provide robust preoperative education to encourage realistic expectations and direct patients toward resources for pain management to facilitate comprehensive rehabilitation.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic III.

KEYWORDS:

Brachial plexus; nerve avulsion; patient-reported outcomes; qualitative

PMID:
24612838
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.01.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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