Surgical treatment for lateral epicondylitis: a long-term follow-up of results

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Apr;19(3):363-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Hypothesis: Since its first description, the pathology, natural history, and treatment of lateral epicondylitis have remained controversial. For patients in who conservative management fails, surgery remains an option. The optimal method of surgery remains debatable and is further confounded by a relative lack of long-term follow-up studies.

Materials and methods: This study describes a modification of the Nirschl surgical technique and presents its long-term results. Patients undergoing this open technique were reviewed by use of the Hospital for Special Surgery and Mayo elbow performance assessment tools, as well as having grip strength and subjective outcome recorded.

Results: From June 1986 to December 2001, 158 consecutive patients (171 elbows) underwent surgery in a single-surgeon series. Of these patients, 137 (86.7%) were available for follow-up at a mean of 9.8 years. The mean age of the group was 42 years. Subjectively, the results were good to excellent in 94.6% of patients and in 92.6% to 94.0% of patients by use of the Hospital for Special Surgery and Mayo scores, respectively. No differences were noted in grip strength. No patient required revision surgery.

Conclusions: This repeatable open technique offers excellent results with a low rate of complications at a mean follow-up of 9.8 years. These results compare favorably in terms of numbers followed up, length of follow-up, and outcome and offer strong evidence of its efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hand Strength
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recovery of Function
  • Tennis Elbow / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome