Carpal Tunnel Release without a Tourniquet: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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BACKGROUND: Open carpal tunnel release is commonly performed with the use of a tourniquet. The combination of local anesthetic and epinephrine with a pneumatic tourniquet helps provide clear visualization during decompression of the median nerve. There has been a rapid expansion of literature challenging the use of tourniquets in open carpal tunnel release. Consequently, the local anesthesia/no tourniquet approach has become increasingly popular. The authors evaluated the outcomes of awake open carpal tunnel release with and without a tourniquet. METHODS: The authors attempted to identify all relevant studies, regardless of language or publication status. A systematic database search for relevant studies was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBSCO, and CENTRAL. Included studies compared patients undergoing awake open carpal tunnel release with and without an arm or forearm tourniquet. RESULTS: Eight studies evaluating 765 patients and 866 hands were included. Open carpal tunnel release with the wide awake, local anesthesia, no tourniquet approach resulted in a 2.14 point reduction on the visual analog scale (95% CI, 1.30 to 2.98; p < 0.001). The procedure was 1.82 minutes faster with the use of a tourniquet (95% CI, -3.26 to -0.39; p = 0.01). There were no significant differences between groups in intraoperative blood loss, surgeon perceived difficulty, and complications. CONCLUSION: This systematic review found that tourniquet use causes significantly more pain with no significant clinical benefit as compared with using a wide awake, no tourniquet approach in carpal tunnel decompression.
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