The brachial plexus is an array of nerves that are derived from the fifth, sixth, seventh and either cervical nerve roots and the first thoracic nerve foot. As these nerves emerge from the spine, through their intervertebral foramina, they are composed of a anterior and posterior division. These Over the distance of roughly the neck to the shoulder, they intermingle and form the nerves that will supply the muscles and sensation of the arm. Tumors can arise from the nerves, from the linings of the nerves and from the structures near them, such as the superior aspect of the lung. The symptoms that develop depend of the level of the brachial plexus that is involved, as well as which particular nerves are affected. These tumors can be both malignant, such as lung cancer, and benign, such as a schwanoma of the nerve.
Causes of Brachial Plexus Tumor
Tumors of the brachial plexus are derived from the nerves. These include tumors such as schwanomas and neurofibromas. Occasionally, they may undergo further mutation and degenerate into a malignant sarcoma. Tumors from the lung, referred to as Pancoast tumors, often envelop the inferior portion of the brachial plexus. These are usually malignant tumors. Metastatic tumors may be deposited here from any source.
Signs and Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Tumor
The symptoms which develop depend on which part of the brachial plexus is involved. When the entire brachial plexus is involved, the entire arm is involved, both in its strength and sensation. When the upper part of the brachial plexus is involved, the muscles supplied by the upper nerve roots are principally affected. This usually leads to weakness of the shoulder and biceps. The hand function may be relatively well preserved. Tumors of the lower brachial plexus, or tumors arising from the lung, usually produce weakness and wasting of the small muscles of the hand. The hand assumes a claw like deformity. There may be a Horner's syndrome, where the eye on the affected side has a smaller pupil and there is some drooping of the eyelid. If the tumor arises from a specific nerve or cord of the brachial plexus, the symptoms may be restricted to only those muscles and that area of sensation that the particular nerve supplies.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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