How Is Cubital Tunnel Release Surgery Performed?

Surgery for cubital tunnel release is the last resort when it comes to treating nerve compression. If the condition fails to improve with non-surgical treatments or if it causes persistent pain and numbness, the patient is most likely a good candidate for cubital tunnel release surgery. The most notable benefit of surgery is that if the ulnar nerve is compressed, the procedure will relieve the pressure. If the patient experiences some of these symptoms, they may be recommended surgery:

  • a persistent and intermittent tingling and numbness in the fingers
  • a grip in the affected hand
  • a sense of “falling asleep” of the fingers
  • muscle weakness and impaired muscle function in the fingers
  • difficulty controlling fingers for various tasks
  • tenderness and pain in the elbow joint
  • sensitivity to cold temperatures

After the patient receives anesthesia, the orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision behind the elbow to access the ulnar nerve passing through the bony pathway known as the cubital tunnel. Subsequently, medical instruments known as retractors are used to draw back superficial nerves from the ulnar nerve. The surgeon then inserts the endoscope to assess the condition of the ulnar nerve. The camera of the endoscope permanently offers clear, detailed images from the inside of the elbow joint on a monitor so that the surgeon and the medical team can see what is going on and what they need to repair.

Finally, the surgeon inserts miniature surgical instruments through the endoscope and divides the roof of the cubital tunnel to relieve pressure on the nerve. After decompression, they manipulate the elbow in various directions to evaluate the stability of the ulnar nerve. Once the procedure is finalized, the soft tissue and skin are closed with sutures, and a sterile dressing is applied over the incision.