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What is endoscopic carpal tunnel release?

Endoscopic carpal tunnel release is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to improve or eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome. A one inch incision is placed in the wrist through which specialized instruments are inserted. These are used to release the ligament from the inside.

What are the advantages of endoscopic carpal tunnel release?

Traditional carpal tunnel surgery requires a large incision on the palm. This can often be painful. With endoscopic surgery, the incision is much smaller and therefore the recovery time is faster and less painful. There is also less scarring. Generally, endoscopic patients require less occupational therapy that those who undergo traditional surgery. As a result, endoscopic patients are able to resume their normal activities faster.

Who should have endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery?

Anyone considering carpal tunnel surgery should discuss the endoscopic option with his or her doctor. The minimally invasive method has many advantages over traditional surgery , but each patient must be evaluated individually.

What preparations will be needed prior to surgery?

The surgeon may have the patient see a primary care doctor prior to surgery to make sure there are no medical conditions that may cause a problem with the surgery.  There will be a pre-op appointment prior to the day of surgery that will include a history and physical examination, possible blood samples, possible EKG, and a visit with a member of anesthesia department.  Patients should not eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before surgery.

What type of anesthesia will be required?

The operation is performed under local nerve-block anesthesia using a tourniquet on the arm.

Is there a hospital stay after surgery?

Most endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis. The patient will arrive about 2 hours prior to surgery and often leave 1-2 hours after the surgery is finished.

What kind of a recovery can be expected?

Generally, open and endoscopic carpal tunnel release patients have very similar recovery times, with endoscopic occasionally slightly faster –- move fingers and do very light tasks – within 1 to 2 days; full normal activities – within 2 to 4 weeks; and “heavy” manual labor – within 3 to 6 weeks.