Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release with and without Sedation

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This study evaluated outcomes and complications with endoscopic carpal tunnel release performed with local anesthesia only versus local anesthesia with sedation. The authors hypothesized that patient outcomes and satisfaction would be equivalent in both groups irrespective of anesthesia type.


One hundred fifty-four consecutive patients undergoing endoscopic carpal tunnel release with local anesthesia either with or without sedation were prospectively enrolled in a study of satisfaction and outcomes. Patients were surveyed preoperatively and at 2 weeks and 3 months postoperatively to evaluate satisfaction, symptoms, complications, and disability using the 11-question Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire survey; the Levine-Katz carpal tunnel survey; and a customized Likert scale.


The hypothesis was upheld. Patients reported high levels of satisfaction (96 percent in the local anesthesia group and 93 percent in the local anesthesia with sedation group at 3 weeks). Disability, pain, and symptom scores did not differ significantly between groups at either postoperative time point. After surgery, patients in the sedation group recalled more mean preoperative anxiety (four of 10 versus 2.03 of 10 at 3 months). If they were to undergo surgery again, patients in the sedation group were likely to desire either sedation (68 percent) or general anesthesia (29 percent), whereas patients in the local anesthesia–only group were likely to wish for similar local-only anesthesia (78 percent). There were no reoperations or epinephrine-related complications in either group.


Patients undergoing endoscopic carpal tunnel release with the local anesthesia or local anesthesia plus sedation experience similar levels of satisfaction and outcomes. Both methods of anesthesia provide excellent results and allow surgeons and patients to choose freely between the two anesthetic techniques.

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