Comparing Functional Outcome of Triangle Tilt Surgery Performed Before Versus After Two Years of Age

Rahul K Nath*, Chandra Somasundaram , Faiz Mahmooduddin
Texas Nerve and Paralysis Institute, 6400 Fannin Street, Suite 2420, Houston, TX 77030, USA

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© Nath et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Texas Nerve and Paralysis Institute, 6400 Fannin Street, Suite 2420, Houston, TX 77030, USA; Tel: 1-713-592-9900; Fax: 1-713-592-9921; E-mail:



Many patients each year who are born with obstetric brachial plexus injuries eventually do not achieve complete recovery. As a result of the primary nerve injuries, these patients will often develop bony deformities involving the shoulder joint as a secondary consequence. The triangle tilt surgery has been shown to be an effective procedure to correct these deformities and has been performed on patients ranging in age from less than a year old to adolescence. The purpose of this retrospective study is to compare outcomes of triangle tilt surgery performed on patients before the age of 2 years versus after 2 years of age to determine an optimal age to operate on these children.


36 patients with deformities developed secondarily from the initial obstetric brachial plexus injury in this study were divided into 2 groups. Group 1, those who had undergone triangle tilt surgery at < 2 yrs of age (16 patients). Group 2, those who were operated at > 2 yrs of age (20 patients). Group 1 age range: 9 months to 23 months, average: 18 months. Group 2 age range: 26 months to 9 years, average: 6 years.


Significant differences were found between the 2 groups (0-2 yrs vs > 2yrs) in regards to overall changes (pre- to post-op) in Mallet score, external rotation score, hand-to-mouth score, and supination angle.


This study demonstrates that triangle tilt surgery had better outcomes on clinical functioning if performed before the age of 2 years, however, improvement in clinical functioning can still be achieved if the triangle tilt surgery is performed after the age of 2 years as well. A possible mechanism to explain this phenomenon is the increased potential for anatomical remodeling if the triangle tilt surgery is performed at a younger age, thereby leading to significant functional improvement.

Keywords: Triangle tilt surgery, obstetric brachial plexus injury, modified mallet score, supination angle.