Pectoralis major tendon transfer for the treatment of scapular winging due to long thoracic nerve palsy

Jonathan J. Streit, Christopher J. Lenarz, Yousef Shishani, Christopher McCrum, J. P. Wanner, R. J. Nowinski, Jon J P Warner, Reuben Gobezie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Painful scapular winging due to chronic long thoracic nerve (LTN) palsy is a relatively rare disorder that can be difficult to treat. Pectoralis major tendon (PMT) transfer has been shown to be effective in relieving pain, improving cosmesis, and restoring function. However, the available body of literature consists of few, small-cohort studies, and more outcomes data are needed. Materials and methods: Outcomes of 26 consecutive patients with electromyelogram-confirmed LTN palsy who underwent direct (n = 4) or indirect transfer (n = 22) of the PMT for dynamic stabilization of the scapula were reviewed. All patients were followed up clinically for an average of 21.8 months (range, 3-62 months) with evaluations of active forward flexion, active external rotation, American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) score, visual analog scale (VAS) pain score, and observation of scapular winging. Results: Preoperative to postoperative results included increases in the mean active forward flexion from 112° to 149° (P < .001) an in mean active external rotation from 53.8° to 62.8° (P = .045), an improvement in the mean ASES score from 28 to 67.0 (P < .001), and an improvement in the mean VAS pain score from 7.7 to 3.0 (P < .001). Recurrent scapular winging occurred in 5 patients. There was no difference in outcome by length of follow-up. Conclusions: PMT transfer is an effective treatment for painful scapular winging resulting from LTN palsy. This is the largest reported series of consecutive patients treated with PMT transfer for the correction of scapular winging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-690
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Long thoracic nerve palsy
  • Pectoralis major tendon transfer
  • Scapular winging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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