Endoscopic versus open carpal tunnel release: A randomized trial
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PURPOSE: This study compared the outcomes in patients assigned to either endoscopic carpal tunnel release (ECTR) or traditional open carpal tunnel release (OCTR). METHODS: An unbalanced randomized clinical trial (91 endoscopic, 32 open) was conducted. Short-term and long-term outcomes were evaluated by a blinded assessor. The primary outcome measures were symptom severity measured on a self-report scale and nerve/vascular complications. Secondary outcomes included the McGill pain questionnaire, grip strength, pinch strength, sensory threshold (NK PSSD device, NK Biotechnical Corp, Minneapolis, MN), and time to return to work. RESULTS: Both groups improved on all outcomes. No differences were observed in primary outcomes between the groups at either baseline or follow-up at 1 week, 6 weeks, or 12 weeks after surgery. No significant complications occurred in either group. Grip strength and pain were significantly better at 1 and 6 weeks in the endoscopic group although differences dissipated by 12 weeks. No significant differences occurred in other secondary outcomes. Long-term satisfaction was lower in the endoscopic group, attributable to a 5% rate of re-operation. Lower rates of endoscopic release have occurred at our center once these results were available to surgeons and patients. CONCLUSIONS: No substantive difference in benefit was shown for these 2 methods of carpal tunnel release.