Trapezius tendon transfer according to Saha after neglected complete axillary nerve injury

Published online: Aug 27 2012

Naser M. SELIM

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mansoura University Hospital, Egypt


Traumatic axillary nerve injury represents less than 1% of all nerve injuries. It is often subclinical because it is masked by the pain due to a shoulder fracture or dislocation, so that treatment is neglected for a long period. When nerve repair and physiotherapy are unsuccessful, trapezius tendon transfer may be considered. Between March 2008 and May 2009, 10 patients with neglected deltoid paralysis were treated by trapezius tendon transfer at Mansoura University hospital and in a private hospital. All patients were males. Their mean age was 27.8 years (range : 17-35). The mean follow-up period was 30 months (range : 24 to 36 months). The operations were performed according to the method described by Saha in 1967, involving transfer of the lateral extremity of the clavicle, the acromioclavicular joint and the acromion, with the insertion of the trapezius, to the proximal humerus. The authors retrospectively assessed the results according to the 5 items (a-e) of the Rowe and Zarins score : all 10 patients had (a) improved shoulder function with (e) a more stable shoulder. The mean active abduction (b) was 76° (range : 50-100 °) and the mean active flexion (c) 78° (range : 45-110°). However, most authors report lower values : from 34 to 76° of abduction, and from 30 to 78° of flexion. Arthrodesis results in 59 to 71.43° of abduction. The abduction power (d) was improved : it reached grade 3 in 7 cases and grade 4 in 3 cases. In this study, trapezius tendon transfer provided satisfactory functional improvement for paralysis of shoulder abduction after neglected complete axillary nerve injury, with improvement in shoulder stability, power and range of motion.