The 7 Structures Distal to the Elbow That Are Critical to Successful Anterior Transposition of the Ulnar Nerve

John M. Felder, Susan E. Mackinnon, Megan M. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Ulnar nerve transposition (UNT) surgery is performed for the treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome. Improperly performed UNT can create iatrogenic pain and neuropathy. The aim of this study is to identify anatomical structures distal to the medial epicondyle that should be recognized by all surgeons performing UNT to prevent postoperative neuropathy. Methods: Ten cadaveric specimens were dissected with attention to the ulnar nerve. Intramuscular UNT surgery was simulated in each. Distal to the medial epicondyle, any anatomical structure prohibiting transposition of the ulnar nerve to a straight-line course across the flexor-pronator mass was noted and its distance from the medial epicondyle was measured. Results: Seven structures were found distal to the medial epicondyle whose recognition is critical to ensuring a successful anterior transposition of the ulnar nerve: (1) Branches of the medial antebrachial cutaneous (MABC) nerve; (2) Osborne’s fascia; (3) branches from the ulnar nerve to the flexor carpi ulnaris (FCU); (4) crossing vascular branches from the ulnar artery to the FCU; (5) the distal medial intermuscular septum between the FCU and flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS); (6) the combined muscular origins of the flexor-pronator muscles; and (7) the investing fascia of the FDS. Measurements are given for each structure. Conclusions: Poor outcomes and unnecessary revision surgeries for cubital tunnel syndrome can be avoided with intraoperative attention to 7 structures distal to the medial epicondyle. Surgeons should expect to dissect up to 12 cm distal to the medial epicondyle to adequately address these and prevent kinking of the nerve in transposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-781
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • compression neuropathy
  • cubital tunnel syndrome
  • flexor carpi ulnaris
  • medial epicondyle
  • medial intermuscular septum
  • ulnar nerve
  • ulnar nerve transposition


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