Extracranial spinal accessory nerve injury

Neurosurgery. 1993 Jun;32(6):907-10; discussion 911. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199306000-00004.


Eighty-three consecutive patients with extracranial accessory nerve injury seen over a 12-year period are reviewed. The most common etiology was iatrogenic injury to the nerve at the time of previous surgery. Such operations were usually minor in nature and often related to lymph node or benign tumor removal. Examination usually distinguished winging due to trapezius weakness from that of serratus anterior palsy. Trapezius weakness was seen in all cases. Sternocleidomastoid weakness was unusual. Patients with accessory palsy were evaluated by both clinical and electromyographic studies. Patients who exhibited no clinical or electrical evidence of regeneration were operated on (44 cases). Based on intraoperative nerve action potential studies, 8 lesions in continuity had neurolysis alone. Resection with repair either by end-to-end suture or by grafts was necessary in 31 cases. One case had suture removed from nerve, two had nerve placed into target muscle, and two had more proximal neurotization. Function was usually improved in both operative and nonoperative patients. Related anatomy is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Accessory Nerve / physiopathology
  • Accessory Nerve / surgery
  • Accessory Nerve Injuries*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intraoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Intraoperative Complications / surgery
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Suture Techniques
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology