Updated: 10/4/2016

Open Carpal Tunnel Release

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Questions
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Evidence
26
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Videos
7
Cases
1
Techniques
4

Preoperative Patient Care

A

Intermediate Evaluation and Management

1

Obtain focused history and performs focused orthopedic exam

  • night pain, paresthesias
  • Median nerve motor/ sensory evaluation
  • MN numbness, thumb abduction
  • provocative maneuvers:
  • Tinel
  • tap the median nerve over the volar carpal tunnel
  • Phalen
  • wrist flexed with elbow extended for ~60 sec produces symptoms
  • less sensitive than Durkin compression test
  • Durkins compression test
  • is the most sensitive test to diagnose carpal tunnels syndrome
  • press thumbs over the carpal tunnel and hold pressure for 30 seconds.
  • onset of pain or paresthesia in the median nerve distribution within 30 seconds is a positive result.

2

Evaluate other sites of MN compression

  • pronator syndrome
  • cervical radiculopathy

3

Orders and interprets required diagnostic studies

  • EMG and NCV
  • often the only objective evidence of a compressive neuropathy (valuable in work comp patients with secondary gain issues)
  • not needed to establish diagnosis (diagnosis is clinical)
  • NCV
  • increase latencies (slowing) of NCV
  • distal sensory latency of > 3.2 ms
  • motor latencies > 4.3 ms
  • decreased conduction velocities less specific than latencies
  • velocity of < 52 m/sec is abnormal
  • EMG
  • test the electrical activity of individual muscle fibers and motor units
  • detail insertional and spontaneous activity
  • potential pathologic findings
  • increased insertional activity
  • sharp waves
  • fibrillations
  • fasciculations
  • complex repetitive discharges

4

Prescribes and manages nonoperative treatment

  • night splints
  • steroid injections
  • attempts trial of physical therapy

5

Makes informed decision to proceed with operative treatment

  • documents failure of nonoperative management
  • describes accepted indications and contraindications for surgical intervention

6

Provides simple post operative management and rehabilitation

  • postop: 2-3 Week postoperative visit
  • wound check
  • remove sutures
  • start hand therapy
  • diagnose and management of early complications
B

Advanced Evaluation and Management

1

Complex postop management

  • worsening numbness
  • worsening pain
  • additional radiating symptoms
C

Preoperative H & P

1

Perform basic history and physical exam

  • check neurovascular status
  • identify medical co-morbidities that might impact surgical treatment
  • screen medical studies to identify and contraindications for surgery

2

Perform operative consent

  • describe complications of surgery including
  • incomplete release
  • median nerve damage or scarring
  • ulnar nerve or ulnar artery damage
  • palmer arterial arch damage
  • RSD

Operative Techniques

E

Preoperative Plan

1

Execute surgical walkthrough

  • describe the steps verbally to the attending prior to the start of the case
  • describe potential complications and steps to avoid them
F

Room Preparation

1

Surgical instrumentation

  • Loupes recommended

2

Room setup and equipment

  • standard operative table with hand table

3

Patient positioning

  • supine position
G

Superficial Dissection

1

Mark the incision

  • mark the incision at the intersection of the Kaplan cardinal line and the radial border of the fourth ray ending at the wrist crease

2

Make incision

  • make incision anywhere along this mark
  • incision needs to be long enough that the proximal and distal aspects of the TCL can be visualized
H

Expose the TCL

1

Expose the TCL

  • use a scalpel or scissors to dissect through the subcutaneous fat and palmar tissue
  • the palmaris brevis muscle is often seen superficial to the TCL
  • incise and feather the palmaris brevis muscle from the TCL to allow adequate visualization
  • use a mosquito clamp or Carroll elevator into the carpal canal just deep to the TCL
  • this space defines the undersurface of the TCL and the hamate hook

2

Visualize the superficial surface of the TCL

  • place a right angle retractor
  • this is placed to protect the critical structures that are located between the skin and the ligament
I

TCL Release

1

Release the most ulnar aspect of the TCL

  • identify the most ulnar aspect of the TCL in the canal close to the hook of hamate
  • release the TCL under direct visualization
  • make sure to release proximally and distally
  • use scissors, scalpel or mini meniscotome type beaver blade
  • keep the radial leaflet of the TCL over the median nerve

2

Release the distal forearm fascia proximally

  • this is a common secondary site of compression

3

Confirm release of the TCL proximally and distally

J

Explore Median Nerve to Ensure Decompressed

1

Check nerve

  • check all areas for possible nerve compression before wound closure
K

Wound Closure

1

Superficial wound closure

  • use 3-0 nylon to close skin

2

Dressings

  • place in a soft dressing

Postoperative Patient Care

O

Perioperative Inpatient Management

1

Discharges patient appropriately

  • pain meds
  • outpatient PT
  • schedule follow up in 2 weeks
  • wound care
R

Complex Patient Care

1

Able to identify and manage complex complications postoperatively

 

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