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Physiology - Surgery


Outcome following Nerve Repair of High Isolated Clean Sharp Injuries of the Ulnar Nerve
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Author: René Post et al.

by René Post, Kornelis S. de Boer, Martijn J. A. Malessy

Objective

The detailed outcome of surgical repair of high isolated clean sharp (HICS) ulnar nerve lesions has become relevant in view of the recent development of distal nerve transfer. Our goal was to determine the outcome of HICS ulnar nerve repair in order to create a basis for the optimal management of these lesions.

Methods

High ulnar nerve lesions are defined as localized in the area ranging from the proximal forearm to the axilla just distal to the branching of the medial cord of the brachial plexus. A meta-analysis of the literature concerning high ulnar nerve injuries was performed. Additionally, a retrospective study of the outcome of nerve repair of HICS ulnar nerve injuries at our institution was performed. The Rotterdam Intrinsic Hand Myometer and the Rosén-Lundborg protocol were used.

Results

The literature review identified 46 papers. Many articles presented outcomes of mixed lesion groups consisting of combined ulnar and median nerves, or the outcome of high and low level injuries was pooled. In addition, outcome was expressed using different scoring systems. 40 patients with HICS ulnar nerve lesions were found with sufficient data for further analysis. In our institution, 15 patients had nerve repair with a median interval between trauma and reconstruction of 17 days (range 0–516). The mean score of the motor and sensory domain of the Rosen's Scale instrument was 58% and 38% of the unaffected arm, respectively. Two-point discrimination never reached less then 12 mm.

Conclusion

From the literature, it was not possible to draw a definitive conclusion on outcome of surgical repair of HICS ulnar nerve lesions. Detailed neurological function assessment of our own patients showed that some ulnar nerve function returned. Intrinsic muscle strength recovery was generally poor. Based on this study, one might cautiously argue that repair strategies of HICS ulnar nerve lesions need to be improved.

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