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Avatar universal

Radial nerve damage during surgery

The radial nerve in my hand was damaged when the anesthesiologist put in an artery line before my surgery about 5 weeks ago.  My symptoms include numbness at the wrist and front and back hand near the thumb and index finger.  My primary care MD said it could take three months to recover or may never go away.  I have read on the net that there is a neurological test to evalutate the damage to the nerve and a surgery to repair the damage.  This literature went on to say early diagnosis is important.  Should I go to a neurologist to have this test or wait as my primary recommended.  I don't want to lose my window of opportunity if treatment is possible.  I don't have total trust in my primary since he misdiagnosed a stroke, gave me steroids and had me walking around for 10 days.  

Thank you for your guidance.
1 Responses
Avatar universal
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.

Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

It is difficult localizing your symptoms based on the description. Is there weakness with your sensory changes? Did you have any symptoms prior to the surgery? You partially describe a carpal tunnel syndrome. It usually also has sensory changes of the palm at the thumb, index and middle fingers, and the ring finger on the side near the middle finger. I am not sure if you have all of these features or not, but I will elaborate on carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression/entrapment syndrome of the median nerve at the wrist. It usually results from excessive use of hands and occupational “microtrauma”.  Other causes include hypothyroidism, amylodosis, and arthritis to name a few. It may also arise during pregnancy and resolve after delivery of the child. Also, this nerve or branches of it can be injured with the insertion of intravenous lines. The sensory changes usually are worse at night. Patients may complain of having to shake their hand to wake it up. Over time, you may develop atrophy of muscles of the thumb supplied by the median nerve.

You also mention a possible radial nerve injury, which again will have specific clinical examination findings. Overall, I would recommend that you follow up with your local neurologist. He/she will perform a specific neurological examination focused on the median nerve. The neurologist may also elect to perform an EMG/NCS to evaluate the motor and sensory components of the median and radial nerves. Also, it is important to distinguish a radial nerve injury from a stroke. The clinical examination can do this but also an MRI if indicated. Again, I would recommend that you follow up with a neurologist.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.

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