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Complete Brachial Plexus Palsy After Total Shoulder Arthroplasty Done With Interscalene Block Anesthesia
  1. John S. Walton, M.D.,
  2. Jeff W. Folk, M.D.,
  3. Richard J. Friedman, M.D., F.R.C.S. (C.) and
  4. Hugh B. Dorman, Ph.D., M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Children's Hospital, Charleston, South Carolina.
  1. Reprint requests: John S. Walton, M.D., Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine, Children's Hospital, 165 Ashley Ave, Suite 525, PO Box 250912, Charleston, SC 29455.


Background and Objectives This report illustrates that brachial plexus palsy can result from either interscalene block or total shoulder arthroplasty. It is often impossible to determine which procedure caused the deficit; therefore, we believe the focus should be placed on treatment of the neurologic deficit. This report provides a suggested algorithm for diagnosis and treatment of postprocedure brachial plexus palsy.

Methods Interscalene block was used as the operative anesthetic for our patient's total shoulder arthroplasty. Complete brachial plexus palsy was diagnosed postoperatively.

Results The patient's postoperative treatment and recovery are described.

Conclusions Proper diagnosis and treatment of postprocedure brachial plexus palsy may improve recovery of function. Several precautions may reduce the likelihood of brachial plexus palsy following interscalene block for total shoulder arthroplasty.

  • Interscalene block
  • Total shoulder arthroplasty
  • Brachial plexus palsy

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