Using the main elbow flexion skin crease as an intraoperative parameter to determine the degree of exorotation needed for humeral derotational osteotomies in upper-type brachial plexus patients

J Orthop Surg (Hong Kong). May-Aug 2018;26(3):2309499018792712. doi: 10.1177/2309499018792712.


Even though one of the surgical techniques most frequently used to correct external rotation deformity of the shoulder in brachial plexus patients is a humeral derotational osteotomy, few intraoperative parameters has yet been identified to determine the appropriate degree of rotation. We present in this technical note our initial experience using the main elbow flexion skin crease to quantify the correct rotation of the humerus in four young, male patients with upper-type brachial plexus injuries. All patients had a functional elbow and a stable shoulder, but also an external rotation deficit. Via a deltopectoral approach, we used the main elbow flexion crease as an intraoperative surgical parameter to determine the degree of external rotation of the humerus required to achieve a better positioning of the hand in space. After surgery, increased elbow flexion range and enhanced hand-to-face movement was observed, while internal rotation was preserved for performing midline activities. Moreover, all patients exhibited increased active elbow flexion and osteotomy consolidation, with mean elbow flexion increasing from 66.3° to 97.5° pre to postoperatively, and a mean 56.3° of internal rotation correction ultimately achieved. We propose that the main elbow flexion crease is a useful intraoperative parameter to determine the degree of intraoperative external rotation necessary to restore the plane of hand-face movements in upper-type palsies.

Level of evidence: IV; case series.

Keywords: brachial plexus palsy; main elbow flexion skin crease; secondary procedures: humeral derotational osteotomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brachial Plexus / injuries*
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathies / complications*
  • Brachial Plexus Neuropathies / surgery*
  • Child
  • Elbow Joint
  • Humans
  • Humerus / surgery*
  • Male
  • Osteotomy / methods*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin