Preoperative sonographic ulnar nerve mapping in the postoperative elbow

Garret M. Powell, Francis I. Baffour, Michael R. Moynagh, John A. Skinner, Tiffany Keller Lam, Shawn W. O’Driscoll, Katrina N. Glazebrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe the technique of sonographic ulnar nerve mapping in the postoperative elbow for surgical planning. Materials and methods: A retrospective review of a surgical databank identified 24 patients, all aged 18 years and older with a history of orthopedic elbow surgery, who were referred for preoperative sonographic mapping of the ulnar nerve prior to subsequent surgery. All cases were reviewed for patient demographics, clinical presentation, prior surgical interventions, and ultrasound technique. Charts were reviewed for intraoperative and postoperative outcomes, including nerve injury. Results: The cohort included 12 males and 12 females with a mean age of 51 years (range 22–68 years) and a mean BMI of 29 (range 20–48). Preoperative sonographic ulnar nerve mapping occurred following various elbow surgeries including ulnar nerve transposition to assess nerve location prior to subsequent elbow surgery. Of the 24 patients with preoperative sonographic ulnar nerve mapping, subsequent surgery was performed arthroscopically in 14 and open in 10 cases. In 11 of the 24 cases, there was specific mention of a modified approach to joint access which was guided by the ulnar nerve map. There were no perioperative ulnar nerve–related complications, such as nerve transection. Conclusion: Preoperative mapping can facilitate planning of surgical access and ulnar nerve dissection. Sonographic mapping of the ulnar nerve reduces the potential uncertainty of nerve palpation in a complex postoperative elbow following ulnar nerve transposition. This technique may mitigate the risk of ulnar nerve injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1219-1225
Number of pages7
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Postoperative elbow
  • Ulnar nerve mapping
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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