Ulnar neuropathy in surgical patients

Mark A. Warner, David O. Warner, Joseph Y. Matsumoto, C. Michel Harper, Darrell R. Schroeder, Pamela M. Maxson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Background: The goal of this project was to study the frequency and natural history of perioperative ulnar neuropathy. Methods: A prospective evaluation of ulnar neuropathy in 1,502 adult patients undergoing noncardiac surgical procedures was performed. Patients were assessed with a standard questionnaire and neurologic examination before surgery, daily during hospitalization in the first week after surgery, and by telephone if they were discharged before 1 postoperative week. Patients in whom ulnar neuropathy developed were followed for 2 yr. Results: Ulnar neuropathy developed in seven patients (0.5%; 95% confidence interval, 0.2% to 1.0%). Six of the seven patients were men. Symptoms of ulnar neuropathy began 2-7 days after surgery. Manifestations were mild and confined to sensory deficits in six patients. Symptoms resolved in four patients within 6 weeks. The remaining three patients had residual symptoms 2 yr later. Conclusions: In this surgical population, ulnar neuropathy was an infrequent complication. It occurred primarily in men who were 50-75 yr old and was not symptomatic until several days after surgery. Gender-dependent differences in the anatomy of the ulnar nerve and related structures at the elbow may serve as risk factors for ulnar neuropathy in patients having surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-59
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999


  • Anesthesia
  • Complications
  • Postoperative complications
  • Ulnar nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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