Brachial and lumbosacral plexopathies: A review

Clin Neurophysiol Pract. 2020 Aug 13:5:173-193. doi: 10.1016/j.cnp.2020.07.005. eCollection 2020.


Diseases of the brachial and lumbosacral plexus are uncommon and complex. The diagnosis of plexopathies is often challenging for the clinician, both in terms of localizing a patient's symptoms to the plexus as well as determining the etiology. The non-specific clinical features and similar presentations to other root, nerve, and non-neurologic disorders emphasize the importance of a high clinical index of suspicion for a plexopathy and comprehensive clinical evaluation. Various diagnostic tests, including electrodiagnostic (EDX) studies, neuroimaging (including ultrasound, MRI, or PET), serologic studies, and genetic testing, may be used to confirm a plexopathy and assist in identifying the underlying etiology. EDX testing plays an important role in confirming a plexopathy defining the localization, pathophysiology, chronicity, severity, and prognosis. Given the complexity of the plexus anatomy, multiple common and uncommon NCS and an extensive needle examination is often required, and a comprehensive, individualized approach to each patient is necessary. Treatment of plexopathies often focuses on symptomatic management although, depending on the etiology, specific targeted treatments may improve outcome. This article reviews the clinical features, EDX approaches, and evaluation and treatment of brachial and lumbosacral plexopathies.

Keywords: Brachial plexus; Electrodiagnosis; Imaging; Inflammatory; Lumbosacral plexus; Neoplastic; Radiation; Thoracic outlet syndrome; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Review