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History of the Surgical Treatment of Ulnar Nerve Compression at the Elbow

Bartels, Ronald H.M.A. M.D.


OBJECTIVE: Surgery to achieve ulnar nerve decompression at the elbow has been performed for nearly 2 centuries. Several methods have been developed, some of which have been abandoned. Historical insight improves understanding of current techniques and provides the basis for the development of new methods. Which treatment method is best is the topic of ongoing debate.

METHODS: The literature was reviewed using the MEDLINE database. Standard textbooks and retrieved articles were checked for missing references. For older articles, the bibliographies of books and theses were consulted. When I was unsuccessful in finding information in standard biographies of authors of milestone publications, I contacted the hospitals or institutions in which these individuals worked or are currently working.

RESULTS: A systematic chronological overview of the surgical treatment of ulnar nerve compression at the elbow is presented, with special attention to people who described a treatment method for the first time.

CONCLUSION: This article is the first in the literature to provide information about and photographs of nearly all of the people who were important in the development of the surgical treatment of compression of the ulnar nerve at the elbow.

Department of Neurosurgery, University Medical Center Nijmegen St. Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Received, November 15, 2000.

Accepted, March 28, 2001.

Reprint requests: Ronald H.M.A. Bartels, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Nijmegen St. Radboud, R. Postlaan 4, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Email:

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons