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Cubital tunnel decompression

Summary

Cubital tunnel decompression

Cubital tunnel decompression is very much a last resort and is reserved for people who have persistent symptoms despite trying all other treatments.

The surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic.  A long incision is made over the back of the elbow. The ulnar nerve is identified and followed both up into the arm and down into the forearm. Any tissues which are seen to be compressing the nerve are released.  This might include bands of muscle or fibrous tissue or protrusions of bone.

Usually, the nerve is left to lie in its own track but sometimes it is moved away from the area of scarring and compression across to the front of the elbow where a new  tunnel is made for it (transposition). Any bleeding points will be cauterised  and the skin wound is closed. The wound should be kept clean and dry for two weeks and protected with a soft bandage.

Early use of the fingers and elbow are encouraged and the patient will be shown exercises, which must be continued to prevent the elbow becoming stiff.  Heavy manual labour should be avoided until the wound has fully healed and hand strength has returned.

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