Since 1972, the author has performed 259 brachial plexus repairs and various associated secondary procedures. The best results were obtained with surgery delayed four to five weeks, because the preoperative assessment of the lesion is more accurate after wallerian degeneration has occurred. In addition, formation of a proximal neuroma allows definition of the exact limits for resection. In cases with associated vascular damage, the vessels should be repaired at the same time as the nerve grafts unless there is severe ischemia. Intraspinal exploration with cervical laminectomy is not justified because intraspinal avulsion is always due to rootlet avulsion. Division of the clavicle to facilitate exploration of the anatomy of the plexus where it is the most complex is advocated. In general, distal grafting allows the recovery of a single function, which is preferable to an attempt at total anatomic repair. The adverse effects of contractions must be avoided. The priority of restoration of functions is an important consideration. Elbow flexion should be the first priority, followed by wrist extension, finger flexion, and shoulder abduction, in that order. The results of grafting may be improved by ancillary operations such as shoulder fusion, flexor tendon tenodesis, humeral derotation, and other procedures that provide limited function for patients with various incomplete and complete avulsions. Microsurgical repairs of brachial plexus lesions currently offer the best results for patients with this type of injury.
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