Background: To ascertain whether there were any differences in the outcome of release of the common extensor origin and release of the common extensor origin and drilling of the lateral epicondyle in the management of recalcitrant tennis elbow.
Methods: One hundred and eleven patients (125 elbows; 40 males, median age: 47 years; 71 females, median age: 45 years) entered the study. The minimum follow-up period was 2 years (average follow-up: 52.8 months). Patients were reviewed at 2 and 6 or 8 weeks, and 3 and 6 months after surgery. If a complication ensued, or if a patient did not report improvements, they were followed up for at least 1 year postoperatively. Two years after the recruitment period had ended, telephone interviews were performed. We used a 1 to 10 scale when enquiring about pain, both preoperative and postoperative, with 1 as the best score and 10 the worst. We also determined patient satisfaction, grip strength, and elbow function.
Results: Seventy-five percent of patients had excellent or good results, with 73% of them being satisfied with the results of surgery. There was no statistical significance in the outcome of the 2 procedures (chi-square, p=0.488). There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 procedures regarding pain, satisfaction, elbow function, and grip strength.
Conclusions: Release of the common extensor origin at the elbow is a relatively simple operation, and produces reliable long term relief of tennis elbow pain in at least 70% of patients.