Supraclavicular Long Thoracic Nerve Decompression for Traumatic Scapular Winging


Scapular winging resulting from long thoracic nerve palsy is a painful, disabling condition often associated with periscapular weakness and decreased active shoulder range of motion. Observation, therapy, and symptomatic treatment have customarily been the recommended treatment, often with disappointing results. Recently, encouraging results have been reported following decompression of the long thoracic nerve. Six patients who underwent a supraclavicular long thoracic nerve decompression from 2008 to 2010 for painful posttraumatic scapular winging were identified retrospectively. Four males and two females with a mean age of 28 years at the time of surgery were treated for an average of 9 months following injury. Mean follow-up was 16 months following surgery. All patients had decreased pain, disability, and scapular winging, and improved shoulder range of motion. One patient had recurrence following a second injury. This procedure has resulted in good outcomes without the morbidity associated with tendon or nerve transfer. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 22(3):219–223, 2013)

David W. Schippert, MD, and Zhongyu Li, MD, PhD