Subscapularis muscle mechanics in children with obstetric plexus palsy

Einarsson F, Hultgren T, Ljung B-O, Runesson E, Fridén J. Subscapularis muscle mechanics in children with obstetric plexus palsy. J Hand Surg (E) 33:507-512, 2008.

This study investigates the passive mechanical properties of the subscapularis muscle in children with a contracture as a result of obstetrical brachial plexus palsy. Muscle biopsies were harvested from nine children undergoing open surgery for shoulder contracture. Passive mechanical testing of single cells and muscle bundles was performed. Corresponding comparisons were made using muscle biopsies from seven healthy controls.

Single muscle fibres from patients with obstetric brachial plexus palsy displayed a shorter slack sarcomere length, linear deformation of the fibre within a wider zone of sarcomere length and a greater relative increase in stiffness compared with muscle bundles. We conclude that secondary changes in muscle fibre properties will occur as a result of a longstanding lack of sufficient passive stretch, leading to compensatory changes in the extracellular matrix. These results suggest the presence of a dynamic feedback system constituting a muscle-to-extracellular matrix communication interface.