At least 10 different surgical approaches to refractory lateral epicondylitis have been described, including an arthroscopic release of the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon. The advantages of an arthroscopic approach include an opportunity to examine the joint for associated pathology, no disruption of the extensor mechanism, and a rapid return to premorbid activities with possibly fewer complications. A cadaveric study was performed to determine the safety of this procedure. Ten fresh-frozen cadaveric upper extremities underwent arthroscopic visualization of the extensor tendon and release of the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon. The specimens were randomized with regard to the use of either a 2.7-mm or a 4.0- mm 30°arthroscope through modified medial and lateral portals. Following this, the arthroscope remained in the joint, and the portal, cannula track, and surgical release site were dissected to determine the distance between the cannula and the radial, median, ulnar, lateral antebrachial, and posterior antebrachial nerves, and the brachial artery and the ulnar collateral ligament. No direct lacerations of neurovascular structures were identified; however, the varying course of the lateral and posterior antebrachial nerves place these superficial sensory nerves at risk during portal placement. As in previous reports, the radial nerve was consistently in close proximity to the proximal lateral portal (3 to 10 mm; mean, 5.4 mm). The ulnar collateral ligament was not destabilized. Arthroscopic release of the extensor carpi radialis brevis tendon appears to be a safe, reliable, and reproducible procedure for refractory lateral epicondylitis. Cadaveric dissection confirms these findings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine