Clarification of Eponymous Anatomical Terminology: Structures Named After Dr Geoffrey V. Osborne That Compress the Ulnar Nerve at the Elbow

Hand (N Y). 2017 May 1;13(3):1558944717708030. doi: 10.1177/1558944717708030. Online ahead of print.


Background: In 1957, Dr Geoffrey Osborne described a structure between the medial epicondyle and the olecranon that placed excessive pressure on the ulnar nerve. Three terms associated with such structures have emerged: Osborne's band, Osborne's ligament, and Osborne's fascia. As anatomical language moves away from eponymous terminology for descriptive, consistent nomenclature, we find discrepancies in the use of anatomic terms. This review clarifies the definitions of the above 3 terms.

Methods: We conducted an extensive electronic search via PubMed and Google Scholar to identify key anatomical and surgical texts that describe ulnar nerve compression at the elbow. We searched the following terms separately and in combination: "Osborne's band," "Osborne's ligament," and "Osborne's fascia." A total of 36 papers were included from 1957 to 2016.

Results: Osborne's band, Osborne's ligament, and Osborne's fascia were found to inconsistently describe the etiology of ulnar neuritis, referring either to the connective tissue between the 2 heads of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle as described by Dr Osborne or to the anatomically distinct fibrous tissue between the olecranon process of the ulna and the medial epicondyle of the humerus.

Conclusions: The use of eponymous terms to describe ulnar pathology of the elbow remains common, and although these terms allude to the rich history of surgical anatomy, these nonspecific descriptions lead to inconsistencies. As Osborne's band, Osborne's ligament, and Osborne's fascia are not used consistently across the literature, this research demonstrates the need for improved terminology to provide reliable interpretation of these terms among surgeons.

Keywords: Osborne’s band; Osborne’s fascia; Osborne’s ligament; anatomical history; eponymous terminology; medial epicondyle and olecranon; ulnar nerve compression; ulnar neuritis.