Prompt referral and initial evaluation is needed after a brachial plexus injury, because nerve damage can be irreversible if not treated promptly. The medical team evaluates each patient to assess the severity of the injury, including a detailed history and exam, as well as special diagnostic tests, which may include:
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- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — produces three-dimensional, detailed images of the brachial plexus, blood vessels, spinal cord and shoulder joint
- Computerized tomography (CT) myelogram — Dye is injected into the spinal fluid to detect nerve avulsion
- Electromyogram (EMG) — tests electrical activity in muscles
- Nerve conduction study — measures how quickly nerves are transmitting electrical signals
- Brachial plexus injury (Erb's palsy). American Society for Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/Public/HandConditions/Pages/BrachialPlexus.aspx. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Burners and stingers. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/fact/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=226&topcategory=Shoulder. Accessed Nov 22, 2010.
- NINDS brachial plexus information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brachial_plexus/brachial_plexus.htm. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Erb's palsy (brachial plexus birth injury). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/fact/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=314&topcategory=Shoulder. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Brombert MB. Brachial plexus syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 22, 2010.
- Sulaiman OAR, et al. Nerve transfer surgery for adult brachial plexus injury: A 10-year experience at Louisiana State University. Neurosurgery. 2009;65:A55.
- Naoyuki O, et al. Nerve grafting in brachial plexus injuries. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 1996;78:754.
- Nerve injuries. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00016. Accessed Nov. 23, 2010.
- Guiffre JL, et al. Current concepts of the treatment of adult brachial plexus injuries. Journal of Hand Surgery American. 2010;35:1226.