Background: The authors examine the information gained from the use of intraoperative nerve recording in the management of suspected brachial plexus root avulsion. Methods: A retrospective chart review examined 25 patients who had undergone intraoperative nerve recording for a brachial plexus injury. Thirty-seven preganglionic root avulsions were demonstrated by somatosensory evoked potentials, C4 to T1, during intraoperative nerve recording. To measure the information gain derived from intraoperative nerve recording, the authors compared the number of roots diagnosed as preganglionic root avulsions preoperatively to those diagnosed by intraoperative nerve recording. From this, the authors can demonstrate the positive and negative predictive values of their preoperative multimodality assessment for brachial plexus root avulsion and compare this to the result of intraoperative nerve recording to derive the gain of information. In addition, the authors examined the validity of the intraoperative nerve recording somatosensory evoked potentials when this produced a diagnosis of an intact root in this cohort by performing a clinical outcome analysis for those roots used for reconstruction. Results: Twenty-five patients underwent intraoperative nerve recording for unilateral brachial plexus injury; 15 patients were diagnosed with 55 preganglionic root avulsions from C4 to T1 preoperatively by multimodality assessment. Fourteen of 55 roots thought to be avulsed preoperatively were found to be intact with intraoperative nerve recording, representing a gain of information of 25 percent derived from intraoperative nerve recording for roots thought to be avulsed preoperatively. Conclusion: Intraoperative nerve recording adds useful information during exploratory brachial plexus surgery.
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