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Neurosurgery. 2004 Apr;54(4):891-5; discussion 895-6.

Outcomes of cubital tunnel surgery among patients with absent sensory nerve conduction.

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  • 1Division of Orthopedic Surgery, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.



To report the outcomes of cubital tunnel surgery for patients with absent ulnar sensory nerve conduction.


The charts of 34 patients who exhibited clinical symptoms of ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow and who had electromyography-confirmed prolonged motor nerve conduction across the cubital tunnel in association with absent sensory nerve conduction were reviewed. The mean age was 63 years, and the mean symptom duration was 17 months. Four patients had bilateral symptoms. Surgery was performed for 38 limbs, i.e., neurolysis for 21 limbs and subcutaneous transposition for 17 limbs. Fifteen limbs demonstrated associated ulnar nerve-related motor weakness. The mean postoperative follow-up period was 4 years (range, 3 mo to 11 yr).


Sensory symptoms (i.e., pain, paresthesia, and two-point discrimination) improved in 20 limbs (53%), and muscle strength improved in 2 limbs (13%). Improvements in sensory symptoms were not related to patient age, symptom duration, cause, severity of prolonged motor nerve conduction, select psychological factors, associated medical diseases, associated cervical pathological conditions, or type of surgery. Improvements in sensory symptoms were significantly decreased among patients who had experienced cervical disease for more than 1 year and patients with bilateral symptoms.


Patients with cubital tunnel syndrome who have absent sensory nerve conduction seem to experience less improvement of sensory symptoms after surgery, compared with all patients with cubital tunnel syndrome described in the literature. Bilateral symptoms and delayed surgery secondary to associated cervical spine disease seem to be significant negative factors for postoperative improvement of sensory symptoms. Sensory symptoms improved similarly among patients who underwent neurolysis or subcutaneous transposition

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