Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Brachial Plexus Injury in Cattle


Peter D. Constable

, BVSc (Hons), MS, PhD, DACVIM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2023 | Modified Jun 2023

Brachial plexus injury is uncommon in cattle. Damage or avulsion of the nerves of the brachial plexus, such as caused by axilla lacerations and excessive traction or abduction, may result in lower motor neuron (LMN) paresis of the affected thoracic limb, with loss of motor or sensory function.

An affected animal may be unable to bear weight on the affected limb, and its elbow is dropped when compared with the unaffected leg. Horner’s syndrome and loss of the cutaneous trunci reflex may also occur on the ipsilateral side.

Treatment with corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory agents may be attempted. Prognosis is guarded but depends on the extent of the injury.

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