Radiographic and Clinical Outcomes of the Shoulder in Long-Term Follow-Up of Brachial Plexus Birth Injury

Kristen Ploetze, Charles Goldfarb, Summer Roberts, Lindley Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine radiographic and functional outcomes of the shoulder in brachial plexus birth injury (BPBI) patients at long-term follow-up. Methods: Medical records were reviewed at the Shriners Hospital in St. Louis to identify patients older than 18 years with a diagnosis of BPBI. Twenty-five patients were included in this study. Evaluations included radiographic examination, clinical examination, and outcome measures including the Mallet classification, visual analog scale (VAS) for shoulder pain, American Shoulder and Elbow Shoulder score (ASES), quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH), Simple Shoulder Test (SST), and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) domain measures. Results: The mean age of the patients included was 44 years. Average follow-up was 37 years. No patient had primary nerve reconstruction surgery. Thirteen patients had a history of shoulder surgery at an average age of 6 years. There was a wide spectrum of deformity seen radiographically. Fifty-five percent of patients had evidence of glenoid retroversion, posterior humeral translation, or a biconcave glenoid. An additional 20% of patients had complete posterior dislocation of the humeral head. Despite the degenerative changes seen on radiographs, the mean VAS for pain was low, at 2. The mean ASES shoulder score was 54. The mean QuickDASH score was 30. Mean PROMIS Physical Function, Pain Interference, Depression, and Anxiety scores were near the means for the general population, with similar outcomes in patients treated with shoulder surgery compared with those treated without surgery. Conclusions: Adult BPBI patients experience minimal shoulder pain despite deformity and degenerative changes on shoulder radiographs. Whereas there are significant deficits in range of motion and function, PROMIS scores in adult BPBI patients are normal. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1122
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Adult
  • brachial plexus birth injury
  • dysplasia
  • palsy


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