Radial Nerve Palsy After Arthroscopic Anterior Capsular Release for Degenerative Elbow Contracture

Author(s): Park JY, Choi CH, and Choi JH, Lee ST, Kang CH

Source: Arthroscopy 23(12): 1360, e1-3, 2007.


This is a retrospective review of a single case of a radial nerve palsy following use of a ball tipped electrocautery device to release a degenerative elbow contracture.  This article points out the dangers of use of electrocautery to release elbow flexion contractures.  The patient suffered a partial axonotmesis with subsequent recovery, but the authors point out the inherent dangers using this device.  Four prior cases have been reported.

Arthroscopic elbow release is a difficult procedure fraught with potential complications.  Certainly, the true incidence of nerve lesions is much greater than that reported.  The most common nerve to be injured is the ulnar which is a devastating complication.  The posterior interosseous is next, as it lies just anterior to the anterior capsule at approximately the midline of the radiocapitellar joint.  For safety, unless one is very advanced with this technique, the anterior capsule should be resected well proximal to the joint level.


Elbow, Arthroscopy, Nerve, Injury, radial, Electrocautery

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