OBJECT:
Ulnar nerve lesions caused by gunshot wounds have rarely been reported in the current literature. The authors describe the outcome after surgical repair of such injuries, and the factors influencing the results of treatment.

METHODS:
This retrospective study includes 455 patients with 462 ulnar nerve injuries caused by gunshot wounds who were treated at Gulhane Military Medical Academy over a 40-year period. A total of 407 ulnar lesions were surgically repaired at that institution between 1966 and 2005; 237 patients were injured by shrapnel and 218 patients by gunshot. The authors evaluated the motor, sensory, and electrophysiological recovery in these patients, as well as the patients' judgment of the outcome. The authors also tested the effect of repair level, nerve graft length, time to operation, repair technique used, and the presence of coexisting damages in the nerve repair region. The final outcome in these patients was defined as poor, fair, or good on the basis of the British Medical Research Council scores.

RESULTS:
A good outcome was noted in 15.06% of patients who underwent high-level repair, 29.60% of patients who underwent intermediate-level repair, and 49.68% of patients after low-level repair. On average, patients with successful outcomes had a significantly shorter time to operation than those with unsuccessful outcomes. The critical period for surgery was within 6 months of injury. Although the optimal graft length was found to be 5 cm, this finding was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS:
The reported outcome of repairs to ulnar nerves damaged by gunshot has varied in the literature, but there is a consensus that the duration of the interval to surgery, the repair level, and the graft length used influence the outcome of surgical repair for ulnar nerve lesions.



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