Original Communications| Volume 25, ISSUE 2, P360-364, March 2000

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Ulnar nerve function following total elbow arthroplasty: A prospective study comparing preoperative and postoperative clinical and electrophysiologic evaluation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis


      A study was conducted to determine the incidence of ulnar and peripheral neuropathy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis undergoing total elbow arthroplasty and the effect it has on ulnar nerve function after surgery. Preoperative and postoperative clinical and electrodiagnostic examinations were completed in 10 patients. Before surgery 4 patients had clinical and electrophysiologic evidence of a neuropathy (2 each with a peripheral neuropathy and an ulnar neuropathy). One patient had subclinical evidence of a chronic T-1 radiculopathy. After surgery 2 patients showed neurologic improvement (1 had ulnar neuropathy and 1 had diabetic neuropathy). One patient who had normal test results before surgery developed transient ulnar sensory symptoms after surgery. An electrodiagnostic study confirmed an ulnar neuropathy that was not detected on physical examination; the electrodiagnostic findings improved 4 months later. We found that a large percentage of patients (40%) with rheumatoid arthritis had evidence of ulnar or peripheral neuropathy before surgery. The presence of an ulnar or peripheral neuropathy did not predispose patients to develop postoperative ulnar nerve dysfunction either clinically or electrophysiologically. Preoperative and postoperative physical and electrodiagnostic examination results correlated in 9 of the 10 patients. (J Hand Surg 2000;25A:360–364. Copyright © 2000 by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.)


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