Long-term outcome of carpal tunnel release surgery in patients with severe carpal tunnel syndrome

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Few studies have examined the long-term outcome of carpal tunnel release (CTR). The aim of this study was to evaluate the patient-reported long-term outcome of CTR for electrophysiologically severe carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Patients and Methods

We reviewed the long-term outcome of 40 patients with bilateral severe CTS who underwent 80 CTRs (46 open, 34 endoscopic) between 2002 and 2012. The outcomes studied were patient-reported outcomes of numbness resolution, the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) score, and patient satisfaction.


The mean follow-up was 9.3 years. Complete resolution of numbness was reported by 93.8% of patients, persistent numbness by 3.8%, and recurrent numbness by 2.5%. The mean BCTQ symptom score was 1.1 (SD 0.3; 1.0 to 2.55) and the mean Boston function score was 1.15 (SD 0.46; 1.0 to 3.5). 72.5% of patients were asymptomatic and had no functional impairment. Men had poorer outcomes than women and patients < 55 years had poorer outcomes than patients ≥ 55 years. All patients who had undergone endoscopic CTR reported complete resolution of numbness compared with 89.1% of those who had undergone open release (p = 0.047). There was no significant difference in outcome between dominant and non-dominant hands. Patient satisfaction rates were good. There were no adverse events.


CTR has a favourable outcome and good rates of satisfaction, even in patients with bilateral severe CTS at a mean of nine years after surgery. Endoscopic CTR has a higher rate of numbness resolution than open surgery. There were no significant differences in outcome between the dominant and non-dominant hand.

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