Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Purpose To assess the extent to which diaphyseal shortening of the humerus can allow direct suture in case of rupture or transection injuries of the brachial plexus. Methods The use of 3 fresh cadaver specimens allowed for the study of 6 brachial plexuses. Distance measurements were made between reference points placed on the clavicle and on different parts of the plexus. Those measurements were repeated after shortening the humerus by 2, 4, and 6 cm. Results None of the dissected plexuses had classic anatomy. A humeral shortening of 6 cm allowed for a statistically significant reduction of length between the supraclavicular part of the plexus and the terminal branches, which did not exceed 17 mm on average. The difference of length was much greater for the specimen in which the musculocutaneous nerve did not pierce the coracobrachialis muscle proximally. Conclusions In clinical situations, nerve defects are usually larger than the gain observed when doing a 6-cm humeral shortening. Moreover, this procedure implies a large dissection, a functional loss of certain muscles, and a risk of humeral nonunion. Clinical relevance In the absence of extensive nerve dissection, the observed change of length is insufficient in the most brachial plexus disruptions to allow for a direct suture instead of long nerve grafts.