Outcome of simple decompression of the compressed ulnar nerve at the elbow – influence of smoking, gender, and electrophysiological findings

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Background: Compression of the ulnar nerve at elbow is frequently treated with simple decompression. Knowledge about factors influencing results of surgery of the nerve is limited and contradictory. The primary aim was to evaluate outcome of simple decompression of the nerve using a QuickDASH questionnaire, and to investigate any influence of smoking, gender, and preoperative electrophysiological findings. A second aim was to estimate the relation between QuickDASH score and a clinical assessment of outcome by the surgeon. Methods: Patients who were operated on with simple decompression of the ulnar nerve, excluding reoperations, from September 2009 to February 2011 were evaluated before and at 1 year after surgery using QuickDASH. Data were collected from medical records and from a self-reported health declaration. Results: There were no differences in QuickDASH scores or change in total score between smokers and non-smokers or between women and men. Nerve pathology, assessed by preoperative electrophysiology, did not affect outcome. The surgeon’s assessment of outcome mirrored QuickDASH score. Among all patients, 12/33 (36%) did not have a decrease in QuickDASH score >8, which is considered as a minimal clinically important difference. Conclusion: Smoking, gender, and preoperative electrophysiological findings do not affect outcome of surgery. There are a high number of patients who do not benefit from simple decompression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow. Patients who are planned for surgery should be informed that there is a risk for persistent problems. A simple outcome assessment by the surgeon mirrors QuickDASH score at 1 year.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Surgery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-155
JournalJournal of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery
Issue number2
Early online date2016 Jul 25
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

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