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Standard open decompression in carpal tunnel syndrome compared with a modified open technique preserving the superficial skin nerves: a prospective randomized study



Standard open decompression in carpal tunnel syndrome compared with a modified open technique preserving the superficial skin nerves: a prospective randomized study



Journal of Hand Surgery 31(9): 1483-1489



A common surgical treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is open carpal tunnel decompression. This involves skin incision followed by sharp dissection straight down through fat and palmar fascia to the transverse carpal ligament, which is then divided. The incidence of scar discomfort ranges from 19% to 61%, and its cause is not fully understood. We conducted a prospective randomized controlled trial to investigate whether preservation of superficial nerve branches crossing the incision site reduces the incidence and severity of postoperative scar pain after open carpal tunnel release. Forty-two patients with bilateral idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome (84 hands) were included in the study. The patients were randomized to determine which hand was to have carpal tunnel decompression using a technique that would try to preserve the superficial nerve branches. The other hand had open carpal tunnel decompression without any attempt to preserve the superficial nerve branches. An assessment of each hand in each patient was performed immediately before surgery and at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after surgery. This assessment was performed with a questionnaire based on the Patient Evaluation Measure. We found no evidence of a difference in scar pain between the 2 methods at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. There was a significant difference in the length of surgery between the 2 groups. Scar pain scores in this series of open carpal tunnel decompressions were similar, whether or not an attempt was made to identify and preserve superficial nerve branches crossing the wound.

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Accession: 050374526

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PMID: 17095378

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2006.07.018


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