Postoperative brachial plexus injury, often manifesting as a variety of upper extremity neuropathies, is a recognized and not uncommon complication following cardiac surgery that requires a median sternotomy. In general, the vast majority of its neurological symptoms are transient and need no treatment. Nevertheless, in very rare cases, the peripheral neuropathies will persist and cause disability. We treated a 67-year-old male patient complicated by permanent paresthesia and paralysis of the left upper extremity after an eventful coronary artery bypass surgery. The nerve conduction measurements and electromyography all revealed a C5 to T1 lesion. After carefully reviewing the surgical course and referring to the published literature, we tentatively concluded that compression or overstretching produced by wide and prolonged sternal separation of the brachial plexus was the most likely etiology. Asymmetrical traction of the sternal halves during internal mammary artery harvesting might also have contributed to this nerve injury. We surmised, therefore, that brachial plexus injury could be minimized by an exact median sternotomy, a lower position and the smallest possible opening for the sternal retractor, and the avoidance of constant and asymmetrical traction on the sternal halves.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||The Kaohsiung journal of medical sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 2000 Dec|
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