Radial nerve palsy common in humoral shaft fracture has high recovery rates: Study
In a recent study result published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, researchers have highlighted that a high percentage of patients with humeral shaft fracture and experiencing radial nerve palsy, gain back nerve functionality with an average time period of 7 to 9 weeks.
Nerve palsy is common after humeral shaft fracture with the radial nerve being the most commonly injured nerve. Isolated nerve injuries usually recover spontaneously and operative intervention is rarely indicated.
The goal of the present study was to assess the predictors of traumatic nerve injury and recovery in a large cohort of patients with humeral shaft fractures.After obtaining IRB approval, 376 patients with humeral shaft fracture including 96 patients with documented traumatic nerve palsy and 280 with intact neurovascular exam on presentation were retrospectively included in the study. The primary outcome was incidence of a traumatic nerve palsy and the secondary outcome was nerve recovery.
Data analysis revealed some interesting facts.
· Nerve palsy was present in 96 (25.5%) patients at the time of injury. Radial nerve was the most commonly injured nerve (93.6%), followed by ulnar (5.1%), and axillary (1.2%) nerves. Seventeen patients (17.7%) had multiple nerves palsies.
· A multivariable regression analysis revealed that the concomitant vascular injury (OR: 52, 95% CI: 5.6-480.6), distal 1/3 fractures (OR: 6.3, 95% CI: 2.7-14.7) and middle 1/3 (OR: 2.8, 95% CI: 1.2-6.5) versus proximal fractures, open fracture (OR: 2.1, 95% CI: 1.1-4.4), and high-energy trauma (OR: 1.7, 95% CI: 1.1-2.9) were independent predictors of nerve palsy.
· Iatrogenic nerve injury was detected in 7 (4.6%) patients, all affecting the radial nerve.
· Spontaneous recovery of traumatic nerve injuries was detected in 87 (91%) patients with 19% partial and 72% complete recovery. Initial sign of recovery was observed at median times of 7 and 9 weeks for those managed conservatively or fracture fixation.
· Operative treatment of the fracture had no effect on the outcome of nerve recovery (88.5% vs. 100%; p=0.14). Ten (14.1%) patients had transected nerves at the time of exploration and open fractures (22.7% vs. 6.8%; p=0.04) and concomitant vascular injury (33.3% vs. 7.3%; p=0.02) were associated with nerve transection, portending a worse prognosis for nerve recovery compared to nerves in continuity (40% vs. 95.3%, p=0.004).
Observing the results, the team opined "The incidence of nerve injury after humeral shaft fracture was 25%, reflecting an abundance of high energy and open injuries in this cohort. Ninety one percent of patients experienced improvement in their nerve function with median time to recovery of 7-9 weeks. The operative treatment of the fracture did not change the rate of nerve recovery. Patients with multiple nerve palsies and concurrent vascular insult had worse nerve recovery. We recommend nerve studies if no sign of recovery is observed by 9 weeks."
For full article follow the link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jse.2021.04.025
Primary source: Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery