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Electrodiagnostic Predictors of Outcomes After In Situ Decompression of the Ulnar Nerve

Published:November 09, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.10.008

      Purpose

      Patients with severe ulnar neuropathy at the elbow frequently experience suboptimal surgical outcomes. Clinical symptoms alone may not accurately represent the severity of underlying nerve injury, calling for objective assessment tools, such as electrodiagnostic studies. The goal of our study was to determine whether specific electrodiagnostic parameters can be used to predict the outcomes after in situ decompression of the ulnar nerve.

      Methods

      This prospective study enrolled consecutive patients aged ≥18 years diagnosed with ulnar neuropathy at the elbow. Patients completed a baseline battery of motor, sensory, functional, and electrodiagnostic tests before undergoing in situ decompression of the ulnar nerve. They were reassessed at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months after surgery. Forty-two patients completed at least 2 follow-up assessments and were included in the study.

      Results

      When controlling for other electrodiagnostic measurements and demographic factors, none of the electrodiagnostic parameters were predictive of outcomes at 12 months after surgery. Patients with decreased compound muscle action potential amplitudes demonstrated slower trends of recovery in grip strength, pinch strength, and overall scores on the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire as well as its function, work, and activities of daily living subscales, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire, and the Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire. Decreased motor nerve conduction velocity was predictive of slower recovery of 2-point discrimination and pinch strength.

      Conclusions

      Compound muscle action potential amplitude, but not other conventional electrodiagnostic parameters, was predictive of functional outcomes after in situ decompression of the ulnar nerve. This parameter should play a role in determining the timing and prognosis of treatment for ulnar neuropathy at the elbow.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Prognostic II.

      Key words

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