Medical Specialty >> Surgery

Doctors Lounge - Surgery Answers

Back to Surgery Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 8/19/2017.

Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: Worried! Post op complications- ulnar nerve surgery-elbow

 toban - Fri May 16, 2008 2:29 pm

Age: 36
Sex: Female
Past Surgeries: Dequervains tendonitis (wrist- thumb side), neuroma (left wrist, thumb side), 3 ulnar nerve compression surgeries- left elbow.
Medical problems/Disease: None. I don't have diabetes, heart problems etc.
Medication: Ortho Tri Cyclen Birth Control

Here is some background. Sorry this is so long..

I had surgery for ulnar nerve compression, left elbow, on May 1st. This is my third surgery for this problem. First surgery- decompression. Second surgery- medial epicondylectomy ( I think the small bone in this area was removed or shaved down?) and third surgery decompression.

My other surgeon retired so I am going to a plastic surgeon (not a hand surgeon) that is new graduate, 11 months experience. I've gone through two surgeries with this new surgeon.

The surgeon used dissolvable stitches.

The surgeon discovered that the nerve close to the funny bone area was curled or kinked, lot's of scar tissue. I'm not sure exactly what was done but from what I understand decompression.

Since surgery I've experienced many problems with excessive swelling. The swelling wasn't disappearing even though I raised my arm, ice packs on affected areas etc. After 5 days it became bad along with pain and fingers were tingling. I headed to the ER. They figured the surgery dressing was on way too tight, there was some bleeding, and they reapplied another lighter bandage.

I did see the surgeon a few days later for my first follow up and she heard what happened and said similar. The nurse took off the bandages.I noticed around the funny bone area, part of the incision was bumpy or raised and a small gap that was bleeding. I figured maybe this was normal, nothing to worry about. They reapplied a small gauze pad over the incision.

By the next day my swelling was increasing again. I raised it up on pillows, iced the area. This went on for another four days. My arm, hand, fingers were purple-pink color. Fingers were tingling.

I had an appt with my family doctor for something else and he saw my arm and took off the dressing. It was full of blood. The incision was bleeding in about four spots. They looked like small gaps, sores. The rest of the incision was reddish looking but he didn't think it was an infection, almost bloody thin line along the incision. He cleaned it and applied another dressing. Family doctor said he had no idea but he would contact the surgeons office to get me in sooner.

The swelling is about double the size of my normal hand.

So today I saw the surgeon. She seemed angry that I was wearing a dressing and asked me why. I explained to her the above and was told she never heard directly from my doctor. She took off the dressing, it was bloody and still oozing. She seemed annoyed and said I don't understand this.You had surgery two weeks ago. I used dissolvable stitches. I've never seen this or had this happen with a patient before.

She asked if I had been bending my arm too high etc. I told her no that I followed your directions and only bend it slightly. I'm careful with it.

Basically I was told "I don't know and I'm not worried." And next I was told to phone her if I have any more bleeding or swelling.

My question...

Is it possible for excessive swelling to disrupt the incision or cause problems that I am experiencing? Or possibly something else? My hand, fingers and elbow are still swollen.

I did have the small gap in the incision near the funny bone area 5 days after surgery that was bleeding at the time. Since then four more areas have opened up along the incision line.

I'm healthy otherwise. I don't have diabetes, heart problems or any other disease.

Thank you for your help!
 toban - Mon Jul 07, 2008 7:37 pm


This problem is still ongoing. My incision continues to bleed in 4-5 small areas that look like small sores, gaps. My surgery was two months ago.

I keep it clean and covered with gauze pads. I've been to the surgeon for a 3-4 follow ups and the response each time is "I don't know, strange."

I'm considering a second opinion since this is not getting better.

The past few days they feel quite irritated, burning type pain although it doesn't look infected as in no pus.

I have no idea what is causing this but it is frustrating.

I've had prior surgeries for ulnar nerve compression, one with dissolvable and another with removable stitches and never experienced this.
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:26 am

User avatar Hi,
I am really sorry that unfortunately you have developed a problem such as this.Dissolvable sutures have advantages and disadvantages as well.
"sub-cuticular" sutures are cosmetically good but can result in stich abscesses which can cause notoriously prolonged nuisence.From your account, i can't hazard aguess as to what your problem actually is and therfore please follow up with your surgeon who will be in a position to advise you better.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us