12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Intrinsic atrophy and debilitating sensory loss are prominent features of severe ulnar neuropathy with limited surgical options to reliably improve recovery. Restoration of sensation is important to provide protection for the vulnerable ulnar border of the hand. Here, we report our experience with side-to-side sensory nerve grafting from the median to ulnar nerve in the palm to enhance ulnar sensory recovery. Methods: A retrospective chart review identified patients with severe ulnar neuropathy who underwent cross-palm nerve grafting. Included patients had objective loss of protective sensation in the ulnar distribution with 2-point discrimination >8 mm, Semmes-Weinstein monofilament testing (SWMT) >4.56, or no sensory response on nerve conduction testing. Cross-palm side-to-side tension-free grafting from median to ulnar sensory components was performed using short-segment allograft or autografts. Analysis included patient etiology, procedures, nerve conduction studies, objective sensory testing, and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand Disability score. Results: Forty-eight patients with severe ulnar neuropathy underwent cross-palm nerve grafting between 2014 and 2017. Twenty-four patients had adequate follow-up for inclusion. Of the 24 patients, 21 (87%) had return of protective sensation, 16 (66.7%) had return of diminished light touch sensation, and 6 (25%) had return to normal range sensation within 1 year as assessed by SWMT and/or 2-point discrimination. Patients treated with autograft demonstrated referred sensation to the median nerve distribution. Conclusions: Cross-palm nerve grafting may be a useful adjunct to enhance sensory recovery in severe ulnar neuropathy. Further study to quantify differences in sensory recovery between traditional operative techniques and cross-palm nerve grafting is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
JournalHand
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Keywords

  • cubital tunnel syndrome
  • nerve compression
  • nerve graft
  • nerve injury
  • nerve reconstruction
  • nerve regeneration
  • outcomes
  • research and health outcomes
  • side-to-side nerve graft
  • surgery
  • treatment
  • ulnar nerve

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