Patient-Rated Outcome of Ulnar Nerve Decompression: A Comparison of Endoscopic and Open In Situ Decompression

Adam C. Watts, Gregory I. Bain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To report patient-rated outcomes after ulnar nerve decompression at the elbow and to compare the outcome after open in situ decompression with that after endoscopic in situ decompression. Methods: Patients having ulnar nerve decompression were evaluated using patient-rated outcome measures. Fifty-five patients were recruited; 3 were lost to follow-up, and 18 were excluded because they had anterior transposition. Of the thirty-four patients followed up for 12 months, 19 had endoscopic decompression and 15 had open in situ decompression. Patient demographics, presenting symptoms, range of elbow movement, grip and pinch strength, and sensation were recorded preoperatively and at 12 months by an independent observer. Postoperative patient satisfaction, pain, and ongoing paresthesia were recorded using visual analog scales. Subgroup analysis was performed to compare the outcome of open in situ decompression with that of endoscopic in situ decompression. Results: At 12 months after surgery, the proportion of patients satisfied with the outcome was 9 of 15 (60%) for open in situ surgery and 15 of 19 (79%) for endoscopic in situ surgery. The postoperative complication rate was significantly higher after open in situ decompression than that after endoscopic in situ decompression surgery (10%). Preoperative function scores were predictive of patient-rated satisfaction and were related to McGowan grade. Conclusions: The patient-reported outcome of surgical treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome is good but is affected by preoperative symptom severity. Outcomes after open and endoscopic in situ decompression, including the proportion of patients reporting satisfaction and functional improvement, are equivalent, but more patients reported complications after open decompression. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1492-1498
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2009


  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • decompression
  • endoscopic
  • outcome
  • ulnar nerve


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