Nerve injury in severe trauma with upper extremity involvement: evaluation of 49,382 patients from the TraumaRegister DGU (R) between 2002 and 2015

  • BACKGROUND: Peripheral nerve injury (PNI) as an adjunct lesion in patients with upper extremity trauma has not been investigated in a Central European setting so far, despite of its devastating long-term consequences. This study evaluates a large multinational trauma registry for prevalence, mechanisms, injury severity and outcome characteristics of upper limb nerve lesions.

    METHODS: After formal approval the TraumaRegister DGU® (TR-DGU) was searched for severely injured cases with upper extremity involvement between 2002 and 2015. Patients were separated into two cohorts with regard to presence of an accompanying nerve injury. For all cases demographic data, trauma mechanism, concomitant lesions, severity of injury and outcome characteristics were obtained and group comparisons performed.

    RESULTS: About 3,3% of all trauma patients with upper limb affection (n = 49,382) revealed additional nerve injuries. PNI cases were more likely of male gender (78,6% vs.73,2%) and tended to be significantly younger than their counterparts without nerve lesions (mean age 40,6 y vs. 47,2 y). Motorcycle accidents were the most frequently encountered single cause of injury in PNI patients (32,5%), whereas control cases primarily sustained their trauma from high or low falls (32,2%). Typical lesions recognized in PNI patients were fractures of the humerus (37,2%) or ulna (20,3%), vascular lacerations (arterial 10,9%; venous 2,4%) and extensive soft tissue damage (21,3%). Despite of similar average trauma severity in both groups patients with nerve affection had a longer primary hospital stay (30,6 d vs. 24,2 d) and required more subsequent inpatient rehabilitation (36,0% vs. 29,2%).

    CONCLUSION: PNI complicating upper extremity trauma might be more commonly encountered in Central Europe than suggested by previous foreign studies. PNI typically affect males of young age who show significantly increased length of hospitalization and subsequent need for inpatient rehabilitation. Hence these lesions induce extraordinary high financial expenses besides their impact on health related quality of life for the individual patient. Further research is necessary to develop specific prevention strategies for this kind of trauma.

  • info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
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