Ulnar Nerve Translocation Following a Routine Distal Radius Fracture

Iowa Orthop J. 2023;43(1):185-189.

Abstract

A 35-year-old right hand dominant male sustained a high energy closed right distal radius fracture with associated generalized paresthesias. Following closed reduction, the patient was found to have an atypical low ulnar nerve palsy upon outpatient follow-up. After continued symptoms and an equivocal wrist MRI the patient underwent surgical exploration. Intraoperatively, the ulnar nerve as well as the ring and small finger flexor digitorum superficialis tendons were found to be translocated around the ulnar head. The nerve and tendons were reduced, the median nerve was decompressed, and the fracture was addressed with volar plating. Post-operatively, the patient continued to have sensory deficits and stiffness of the ring and small fingers. After one year, he reported substantial improvements as demonstrated by full sensation (4.0 mm two-point discrimination) and fixed flexion contractures at the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints of the small finger. The patient returned to work without functional limitations. This case highlights a unique case of ulnar nerve and flexor tendon entrapment following a distal radius fracture. History, physical examination, and a high index of clinical suspicion is essential for proper management of this rare injury. Level of Evidence: V.

Keywords: distal radius fracture; guyon’s canal; ulnar nerve entrapment; ulnar neuropraxia; wrist fracture.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Forearm
  • Fractures, Bone*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outpatients
  • Ulnar Nerve / diagnostic imaging
  • Ulnar Nerve / surgery
  • Wrist Fractures*