Portal placement in elbow arthroscopy by novice surgeons: cadaver study

Femke M.A.P. Claessen*, Amir R. Kachooei, Gregory P. Kolovich, Geert A. Buijze, Luke S. Oh, Michel P.J. van den Bekerom, Job N. Doornberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: In this anatomical cadaver study, the distance between major nerves and ligaments at risk for injury and portal sites created by trainees was measured. Trainees, inexperienced in elbow arthroscopy, have received a didactic lecture and cadaver instruction prior to portal placement. The incidence of iatrogenic injury from novice portal placement was also determined. Methods: Anterolateral, direct lateral, and anteromedial arthroscopic portals were created in ten cadavers by ten inexperienced trainees in elbow arthroscopy. After creating each portal, the trajectory of the portal was marked with a guide pin. Subsequently, the cadavers were dissected and the distances between the guide pin in the anterolateral, direct lateral, and anteromedial portals and important ligaments and nerves were measured. Results: The difference between the distance of the direct lateral portal and the posterior antebrachial cutaneous nerve (PABCN) (22 mm, p < 0.001), the lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve (4.0 mm, p < 0.001), and the radial nerve (25 mm, p < 0.001) was different from the average reported distances in the literature. A difference was found between the distance of the anterolateral portal and the PABCN (32 mm, p < 0.001) compared to previous studies. Three major iatrogenic complications were observed, including: laceration of the posterior bundle of the medial ulnar collateral ligament, lateral ulnar collateral ligament midsubstance laceration, and median nerve partial laceration. Conclusion: Surgeons increasingly consider arthroscopic treatment as an option for elbow pathology. In the present study a surgical complication rate of 30 % was found with novice portal placement during elbow arthroscopy. Furthermore, as the results from this study have indicated, accurate, precise, and safe portal placement in elbow arthroscopy is not easily achieved by didactic lecture and cadaver instruction session alone. Level of evidence V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2247-2254
Number of pages8
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadaver study
  • Elbow arthroscopy
  • Iatrogenic adverse events
  • Training


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