Background: Although numerous studies have addressed the topic of postoperative nerve injury, debate continues to exist on its exact incidence, risk factors, etiology, and functional outcome. The aim of this study is to investigate the incidence of nerve injury and to identify patient, anesthetic, and surgical factors pertaining to perioperative nerve injury. Also, long-term nerve injury outcomes were assessed in terms of functionality. Methods: A total of 297 patients, scheduled for elective distal upper extremity surgery, were prospectively included. At various time points, patients were screened for new onset nerve injury by means of clinical examination and questionnaires (including the Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand functionality measure). Results: New nerve injury was diagnosed in 14 patients [4.7% (95% CI, 2.8–7.8)], but no causative risk factors were identified. The exact origin of nerve injury is suspected to be surgical in 11 cases. At 4 years postoperatively, 5 of the 14 patients with nerve injury (36%) were still symptomatic and had reduced functionality relative to preoperative status. Conclusions: This study demonstrates an incidence of all cause nerve injury of 4.7%. No specific patient, anesthetic, or surgical risk factors are identified and, importantly, patients who received regional anesthesia are not at more risk of nerve injury than those who received general anesthesia. The exact origin of nerve injury is very difficult to determine, but is suspected to be caused by direct surgical trauma in most cases. Four years following the nerve injury, approximately 40% of the patients with new onset nerve injury have reduced functionality.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1097/gox.0000000000002458, hdl.handle.net/1765/122234
Journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open
Citation
Droog, W., Lin, D.Y, van Wijk, J.J, Ho-Asjoe, R.C.H., Coert, JH, Stolker, R.J, & Galvin, E. (2019). Is It the Surgery or the Block? Incidence, Risk Factors, and Outcome of Nerve Injury following Upper Extremity Surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open, 7(9). doi:10.1097/gox.0000000000002458