Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 159, Issue 3, pp 537–542 | Cite as

Muscular atrophy in severe cases of cubital tunnel syndrome: prognostic factors and outcome after surgical treatment

  • Markus BruderEmail author
  • Stephan Dützmann
  • Nourdin Rekkab
  • Johanna Quick
  • Volker Seifert
  • Gerhard Marquardt
Original Article - Neurosurgical Techniques



Cubital tunnel syndrome (CuTS) is a frequent neuropathy, leading to sensor-motoric dysfunction. Many patients even present with muscular atrophy as a sign for severe and long-lasting nerve impairment, usually suggesting unfavourable outcome. We analysed if those patients benefit from surgical treatment on a long-term basis.


Between January 2010 and March 2015, 42 consecutive cases of CuTS with atrophy of the intrinsic hand muscles were surgically treated in our department. Clinical data of the treatment course and postoperative results were collected. Follow-up was prospectively assessed according to McGowen grading and Bishop outcome score. Mean follow-up time was 39.8 (±17.0) months.


All patients were treated with in situ decompression; in 33%, submuscular transposition was performed. Forty-five percent showed improvement of sensory deficits and 57% showed improvement of motor deficits 6 months after the operation. Atrophy improved in 76%. At the time of follow-up, 79% were satisfied with the postoperative result and 77% of patients reached good or excellent outcome according to modified Bishop rating scale. Patients with improvement of atrophy had significantly shorter symptom duration period (7 ± 10 months vs 26 ± 33 months; p < 0.05). In the case of intraoperative pseudoneuroma observation, atrophy improvement was less likely (p < 0.05).


In severe cases of CuTS with atrophy of the intrinsic hand muscles, surgical treatment enables improvement of sensory function, motor function and atrophy even in cases with muscular atrophy. Atrophy improvement was more likely in cases of short symptom duration and less likely in cases with pseudoneuroma.


Atrophy Cubital tunnel syndrome Denervation Neuropathie Nervus ulnaris 


Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this research.

Conflict of interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organisation or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryGoethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany

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