Transfer of a single flexor carpi ulnaris tendon for treatment of radial nerve palsy.
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Between 1993 and 2002, 108 patients with isolated and persisting radial nerve palsy, underwent transfer of the flexor carpi ulnaris tendon alone to extensor digitorum communis, extensor indicis proprius and extensor pollicis longus. Only patients with sufficient flexor carpi ulnaris muscle power (grade M5) underwent this procedure. Long-term functional results were reviewed at a mean postoperative follow up of 48 (range 3-120) months. In comparison with the contralateral hand, the range of extension of the wrist was less but extension of the fingers and the MCP joints were similar to that of the normal hand. All patients improved functionally and could cope with their routine activities. Most were able to return to their previous jobs. There was no obvious difference in the end result of using this single transfer from our previous results using the three tendon transfers which are commonly used to treat radial nerve palsy. The single flexor carpi ulnaris tendon transfer has some advantages in terms of simplicity, shorter operation time, less morbidity and less surgical scars.