Radial Tunnel Release at the Elbow

Overview

This outpatient procedure, performed under general or regional anesthesia, alleviates compression of the radial nerve. This nerve travels along the outer side of the elbow and down to the hand. Radial tunnel release is used to treat radial tunnel syndrome.

Preparation

Anesthesia is administered, and the patient is positioned to allow access to the outer side of the arm. The area is cleaned and sterilized.

Accessing the Joint

The surgeon makes an incision along the outer side of the elbow to access the radial tunnel, the open space surrounded by muscle and bone that provides a channel for the radial nerve.

Relieving the Compression

The surgeon carefully opens the roof of the radial tunnel at the site of the compression, creating more space for the radial nerve. If the nerve is compressed in multiple places, more than one section of the tunnel may need to be opened.

End of Procedure

The incision is closed with sutures, and the arm is bandaged and placed in a splint. The patient is typically allowed to go home either the same day or after an overnight stay.

Aftercare

The patient may be required to wear a splint for two to six weeks after the surgery. Physical therapy may be required after the arm has healed.