Management of Adult Brachial Plexus Injuries

Jeffrey Ryan Hill, Steven T. Lanier, David M. Brogan, Christopher J. Dy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Adult brachial plexus injuries result in profound functional deficits, debilitating pain, substantial mental health implications, and extensive economic impacts. Their initial evaluation includes a detailed physical examination, electrodiagnostic studies, advanced imaging, and patient counseling. A team-based approach, led by a peripheral nerve surgeon and including hand therapists, electrodiagnosticians, mental health experts, and pain-management specialists, is used to provide optimal longitudinal care during the lengthy recovery process. The options for the surgical management of brachial plexus injuries include exploration, neurolysis, nerve grafting, nerve transfer, free functional muscle transfer, tendon transfer, arthrodesis, and amputation. When treated within 6 months, the outcomes are favorable for the restoration of essential shoulder and elbow function. Free functional muscle transfer is a powerful tool to address elbow flexion and rudimentary grasp in both primary and delayed settings. The restoration of hand function remains a challenge for patients with complete brachial plexus injury. The purpose of this review is to summarize foundational concepts in diagnosis and management, discuss current trends and controversial topics, and address areas for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-788
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Brachial plexus
  • free functional muscle transfer
  • nerve grafting
  • nerve reconstruction
  • nerve transfer


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