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Open procedure vs. arthroscopic débridement for chronic medial epicondylitis.

BACKGROUND: This retrospective study compared the outcomes after open and arthroscopic treatment of chronic medial epicondylitis (ME).

METHODS: The study included 44 elbows in 38 patients: 25 (29-72 years) in the open group and 19 (27-70 years) in the arthroscopy group. The indications for ME surgery were failed conservative therapy for more than 3 months, symptom duration exceeding 6 months, and persistent severe pain. We used radiography, ultrasonography, and magnetic resonance imaging assessments. The clinical assessment included operating time, range of motion, grip strength, visual analog scale (VAS) score, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) score, and complications.

RESULTS: The mean follow-up was 20.2 (12-58) months. The mean operating time was significantly longer in the arthroscopy group (32.5 vs. 23.5 minutes; P = .029). In both groups, all outcome measures improved significantly after surgery and there were no significant differences between the DASH scores (preoperative 44.8 vs. 43.9, postoperative 12.5 vs. 13.2), grip strength (preoperative 72.2 vs. 66.8, postoperative 84.8 vs. 83.6), and VAS scores (preoperative 8.5 vs. 8.2, postoperative 1.0 vs. 1.1) in the open and arthroscopy groups. The outcomes were excellent or good in 20 patients (80%) in the open group and 16 (84%) in the arthroscopy group. The only complication was 1 case of transient ulnar neuropathy in the open group.

CONCLUSION: Open and arthroscopic techniques were very effective and comparable for treating chronic ME. The surgeon can choose either technique for treating chronic ME.

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