Comparing endoscopic and open decompression of the ulnar nerve in cubital tunnel syndrome: a prospective randomized study

Research paper by T. Krejčí, Z. Večeřa, O. Krejčí, D. Šalounová, M. Houdek, Radim Lipina

Indexed on: 16 Aug '18Published on: 15 Aug '18Published in: Acta Neurochirurgica


Prospective randomized data is currently lacking which compares endoscopically assisted surgery with open surgical techniques in the treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome (CUTS). The aim of this study is to compare patient outcome in both techniques.This prospective study comprised of 45 patients who, between October 2014 and February 2017, were randomly assigned to undergo either endoscopic or open surgery (22 and 23 patients respectively) for decompression of the ulnar nerve. Patients were followed up at 3 and 12 months postoperation. McGowan classification was used to determine the severity of symptoms. Surgical outcome was evaluated by Bishop classification. Pain levels were monitored according to gender from 0 to 10 days postoperation. Other factors investigated were chronic scar pain, working status, operation duration, and patient satisfaction regarding postoperative scarring and the procedure itself.Both methods are equally effective in the treatment of CUTS (Bishop score excellent or good 90% vs 96%). Postoperative pain is significant particularly in the first few days following surgery, but with no significant difference depending on procedure. In the open group, postoperative pain was significantly higher in women than in men; pain did not differ between the sexes in the endoscopic group. The tendency to lower levels of pain among endoscopically operated women in comparison with women in the open group was not statistically notable. Patients who underwent open decompression experienced notably higher levels of postoperative chronic scar pain. Although working status and satisfaction with the surgical outcome were the same in both groups, satisfaction with scarring was higher in the endoscopy group. Operation time was significantly longer by endoscopy.Both studied methods produced equal satisfactory outcomes in the treatment of CUTS. Endoscopy has the potential to minimize chronic scar pain and improve scarring esthetics, at the expense of longer operating time.Supported by Ministry of Health, Czech Republic—conceptual development of research organization (FNOs/2014, project number 20).Median postoperative pain from 0 to 10 days by group.

Graphical abstract 10.1007/s00701-018-3647-0.png