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Suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? What Endoscopic Surgery Could Mean for You - - Brandview - 04/25/2016

More than 5 million people reported cases of carpal tunnel syndrome occur each year in the U.S. Subsequently, you probably know someone who suffers from CTS. Common symptoms include pain in the hand and wrist, as well as numbness in the fingers. These symptoms cause increased pressure on the median nerve, cutting off blood flow.

CTS is extremely painful and often debilitating. For serious cases, a true solution comes in the form of endoscopic surgery.

Below are some common questions about endoscopic surgery for CTS, as answered by Dr. Brett Richards of Ogden Clinic.

What is endoscopic surgery?

Endoscopy means the surgeon will use a small camera to assist in the surgery, allowing for a smaller incision.

Does the endoscopic procedure offer more advantages than open surgery?

The Open Carpal Tunnel Release technique involves a larger incision in the palm, which is a very sensitive area with lots of nerves. To gain access to the right ligament for cutting, the surgeon also has to cut through a number of tissue planes.

But with the Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release, this technique allows for more direct access through a small incision on the wrist. The surgeon then uses a small camera to assist in the cutting of the carpal ligament. This results in a quicker recovery and less pain associated with the procedure.

Both procedure types have been found to be equally effective for curing CTS long term.

However, the difference between the two techniques becomes evident in their respective recovery processes. On average, recovery after ECTR is three to six weeks shorter than following an OCTR procedure.

For the above reasons, the endoscopic technique provides more overall advantages to patients than the open surgery technique.

How long have you been using the endoscopic technique? Do you see any difference in the success rate between endoscopic procedures and the more invasive open techniques?

The Ogden Clinic has been performing ECTR for more than eight years. Approximately 95 percent of the CTS surgeries we perform are ECTR. Patients see significantly diminished postoperative pain and a quicker return to full function and work duties with ECTR versus OCTR.

Richards has suffered from CTS and elected to have ECTR after seeing the difference between patients treated with ECTR and those treated with the traditional OCTR technique he learned as a resident in training. We have had a number of patients who have had one hand treated by another provider using OCTR and chose to have ECTR on the other. We believe most patients would say that they prefer the ECTR technique.

What is the recovery process like with the ECTR procedure? How soon could a patient who works with computers expect to be back at work?

Recovery times vary based on individuals, work demands, lifestyle, etc. Patients can start using their hand immediately after surgery; however, Richards also instructs them to let discomfort guide how much activity they attempt.

On average, discomfort with use will start to diminish within 7-10 days. Grip strength will usually return by three weeks, and fully unrestricted activities without any discomfort can be expected by 6-10 weeks. Most patients can be back to sedentary activities such as typing within 5-10 days.

Usually, physical therapy is not necessary after an ECTR procedure.

Are some individuals not good candidates for ECTR? What reasons might call for an OCTR?

The type of surgery you receive often depends on the underlying causes of your CTS. For example, those whose CTS originates from nerve tumors, tendon pathology and abnormal anatomy will often require the OCTR procedure for optimal success.

Previous surgeries may also play a role in determining the next sensible treatment step. Be sure to consult a trusted health care professional with specific training in these procedures to guide you through this decision-making process.

Ogden Clinic has two capable and experienced doctors to help you, so contact us today.