Satoru Shimizu, Shigekuni Tachibana, Takao Sagiuchi, Mari Kurita, Kiyotaka Fujii

August 2008, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 338 - 341 Case Report Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-008-0670-5

First Online: 19 April 2008

We present two cases in which the diagnosis was complicated by the presence of a weak muscle innervated by a compressed motor root in the intervertebral foramen (IVF) at an atypical level. The patients were 59- and 53-year-old men; they presented with marked atrophy and weakness predominantly in a unilateral deltoid. Neuroimaging revealed narrowing of the nerve root sleeve at the C5/6 IVF due to a herniated disk or osteophyte. Predominant atrophy and weakness of the deltoid were not consistent with radiculopathy at the C5/6 IVF, i.e. C6 radiculopathy. During an extended observation period to rule out motor neuron disease, their weakness did not spread and the patients underwent posterior medial facetectomy and anterior foraminotomy. This produced marked improvement of the deltoid weakness soon after the operation. We considered unexpectedly wide motor innervation of the C6 nerve root predominantly in the deltoid, anatomic variations in the C5 root such as the trunk of the C5 root entering into the C5/6 IVF, and descending anastomoses connecting the C5 and C6 rootlets as possible explanations. Awareness of this rare presentation may aid in the diagnosis and surgical management of these patients.

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