Comparison of In Situ Versus Subcutaneous Versus Submuscular Transpositions in the Management of McGowan Stage III Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Ali Izadpanah, Christopher Gibbs, Robert J. Spinner, Sanjeev Kakar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: The objective of the study was to evaluate and compare the clinical outcomes of in situ decompression with subcutaneous and submuscular transpositions for surgical management of advanced (McGowan stage III) cubital tunnel syndrome (CuTS). Methods: A retrospective review of patients in our institution undergoing primary surgery for CuTS from February 1989 to May 2009 was performed. Patients with advanced CuTS with a minimum of 12 months of follow-up without any previous bony or soft tissue procedures around the elbow were included. Seventy-four patients underwent 80 primary ulnar nerve surgeries. Patients’ demographics, presenting symptoms, physical examination, electrodiagnostic findings, and perioperative complications were recorded. Primary surgical techniques were compared and the risk factors for revision surgery were assessed. Results: Of the 80 surgical procedures, there were 17 decompressions (21%), 47 subcutaneous transpositions (59%), and 16 submuscular transpositions (20%). Fifty-two percent of patients had resolution of their symptoms after primary surgery. The overall complication rate after primary surgery was 12.5%. Nineteen patients (24%) had revision surgery at a median of 30 months after their primary procedure. Eight patients (42%) had symptomatic improvement after revision surgery. Patients with their dominant extremity affected, static 2-point discrimination (S2PD) greater than 10 mm, and age less than 50 years at presentation had a higher rate of revision surgery. Three patients had a second revision surgery and neurolysis for persistent symptoms. Conclusions: The overall revision rate in advanced CuTS was 24%. Forty-two percent of patients had reported subjective symptomatic improvement after revision surgery. Younger age at presentation and a greater S2PD were associated with a higher rate of revision surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • cubital tunnel syndrome
  • in situ decompression
  • McGowan III
  • subcutaneous transposition
  • submuscular transposition
  • ulnar neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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