Title

Early Outcomes of Endoscopic Versus Open Carpal Tunnel Release

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2021

Abstract

Purpose: To compare the short-term outcomes of endoscopic carpal tunnel release (ECTR) and open carpal tunnel release (OCTR), including patient-reported outcomes, pain and satisfaction scores, return to work, and postoperative prescription pain medication use. Methods: We included all patients over 18 years of age undergoing carpal tunnel release at a single hand center between January 2018 and December 2019. The carpal tunnel release method was driven by variations in surgeon practice. Data from patient-reported outcomes measurement information system (PROMIS) questionnaires and brief Michigan hand outcomes questionnaires and data on patient-reported pain levels, satisfaction with care, return to work, and postoperative prescription pain medication use were collected at preoperative visits and the first follow-up visit between postoperative days 7 and 14. Results: We included 678 (586 ECTR and 92 OCTR) patients. The median age was 58 years, and 75% of the patients were women. At early follow up, patients who underwent OCTR reported significantly lower postoperative PROMIS upper-extremity scores than those who underwent ECTR (median, 32 vs 36 points, respectively) but similar postoperative PROMIS pain interference, global physical health, global mental health, and brief Michigan hand outcomes questionnaire scores. The postoperative pain and satisfaction scores were similar between the 2 groups. In multivariable models, patients who underwent OCTR had 62% lower odds of returning to work and 30% greater odds of remaining on a postoperative pain prescription at the first follow-up visit. Conclusions: This study found no evidence suggesting the definitive superiority of 1 surgical technique with regard to clinical outcomes in the early postoperative period. However, OCTR was associated with lower postoperative PROMIS upper-extremity scores of unclear clinical significance, higher odds of remaining on pain medication, and lower odds of returning to work by the first postoperative visit. Endoscopic carpal tunnel release may be preferred in patients who need to return to work within the first 2 weeks after the procedure. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

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