Sir James Paget

Sir James Paget | Pathologist
Image: MaterialScientist

Sir James Paget and James Putnam

Although we may think that carpal tunnel syndrome is a relatively new disorder, which came about during the computer age, it was actually originally described by Sir James Paget in 1854. James Putnam, a Boston neurologist, published the first clinical study of 37 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome in 1880 and Learmonth performed the first carpal tunnel release surgery at Mayo in 1933.

Open Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery Or Open Release

However, up until the 1960s, when carpal tunnel syndrome and its treatment options became fairly well defined, there was still no clear consensus on how to treat the condition. In fact, up until the late 1940s, resection of the first rib was a common treatment for this diagnosis! Once medical opinion coalesced about the cause of the disorder, a standard surgical treatment quickly developed, known as “open carpal tunnel release surgery,” or “open release.”

Open Release Surgery

During open release surgery, the transverse carpal ligament is cut, which releases pressure on the median nerve and subsequently relieves the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. A 1 – 1 ½ inch incision is made at the base of the palm of the hand, allowing the surgeon to see the transverse carpal ligament. After the ligament is cut, the skin is closed with stitches. The ligament is left open, and this decreases the pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. This sectioning of the ligament does not result in any loss of function.

With the traditional open release surgery, the hand can remain swollen and tender for a couple of months. Full use of the hand, especially during gripping and grasping activities, can sometimes take up to 6 to 8 weeks, or possibly longer.

Endoscopic Release

Endoscopic release is a relatively new technique, which uses a thin tube with a camera attached (endoscope). The endoscope is guided through a small incision in the wrist, allowing the surgeon to see the transverse carpal ligament without opening the entire area with a large incision. A miniature blade, inserted through the tube, is used to cut the transverse tunnel ligament.

SmartRelease Full Assembly

MicroAire® SmartRelease® Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release System Image: microaire.com

Smart Release Procedure Illustration

MicroAire® SmartRelease® Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release System Image: microaire.com

Here is a quick video of the endoscopic release procedure.

Relief Of Symptoms Of Endoscopic Release

The relief of symptoms of endoscopic release are similar to the traditional open technique. However, you can expect a less post-operative pain and a shorter recovery period after endoscopic carpal tunnel release, because the procedure does not require cutting the palm open and disturbing a large area of the hand. As a result, you can return to work or practicing sports earlier, especially sports that require gripping, such as golf and tennis. Endoscopic release also produces a smaller scar with less swelling and scar-related pain.

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If you suspect that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, please give us a call and let one of our physician’s determine the cause of your pain, and know that should you need surgery, we will offer you the most innovative and safe treatment available.

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