Safe carpal tunnel release via a limited palmar incision

W. P.Andrew Lee, James W. Strickland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Despite its demonstrated advantages in postoperative recovery, endoscopic carpal tunnel release has not been adopted by most surgeons because of the associated complications of neurovascular injury. A technique of carpal tunnel release is presented that utilizes a 1.0 to 1.5-cm palmar incision and a specially designed carpal tunnel 'tome.' Any aberrant anatomy of adjacent neurovascular structures may be identified under direct vision. Anatomic dissection in 28 cadaveric specimens following the procedure showed complete decompression of carpal tunnel and preservation with safe margins of the palmar cutaneous branch and thenar motor branch of median nerve, ulnar artery and nerve, and superficial palmar arch. Clinical experience with the technique in two centers consisted of 525 patients and 694 hands over a 29- month period. The great majority of patients derived complete (72.6 percent) or near-complete (19.6 percent) symptomatic relief from the procedure, and two complications (0.29 percent) of median nerve lacerations occurred. Postoperative incisional and pillar tenderness and grip, key pinch, and three-point pinch strengths were comparable with those in published series of endoscopic carpal tunnel release. We conclude that this technique of carpal tunnel release combines the simplicity and safety of traditional open release and the reduced tissue trauma and improved postoperative recovery of the endoscopic modality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-426
Number of pages9
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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