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Neurol India. 2019 Jan-Feb;67(Supplement):S47-S52. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.250704.

Radiation-induced brachial plexus neuropathy: A review.

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Department of Neurosurgery, P. D. Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.


Radiation-induced brachial plexus neuropathy (RIBPN) is an uncommon problem. It is a delayed nontraumatic brachial plexus neuropathy following radiation treatment for carcinomas in the region of neck, axilla, and chest wall. The incidence is more commonly reported following radiation treatment for carcinoma of breast. The neurological features are characterized by severe neurogenic pain with progressive sensory-motor deficits in the affected upper limb. The incidence has increased following improved survival rate of patients with carcinomas of neck, axilla, and chest wall. The diagnosis of RIBPN is often confused with recurrence of the tumor in the neck and axilla. The management options are limited, and external neurolysis of the involved brachial plexus with excision of the perineural scar tissue is recommended in patients with severe clinical manifestations. We review our experience in the management of RIBPN from 2004 to 2017 and highlight the features of the 11 patients with this disorder whom we encountered during this period. The relevant clinical findings, natural history, pathophysiology, radiological characteristics, and various management options are briefly discussed.


Brachial plexopathy; carcinoma; radiation

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