Carpal Tunnel Surgery - Medical Negligence Lawyers – Compensation Claims

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Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Carpal tunnel syndrome involves pain and numbness of much of the hand due to impingement of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Most people with the condition can get by without surgery. Those who have surgery have these characteristics:

  • They have had no improvement after treating the condition without surgery. Usually a trial of perhaps three weeks to several months is necessary before considering surgery. If there is nerve damage, the decision to do surgery is stepped up.
  • The patient has severe symptoms that significantly alter the activities of daily living.
  • There is documented damage to the median nerve that is seen on nerve conduction studies.

When one has carpal tunnel release surgery, the pressure on the median nerve is released by cutting the ligament that is the top of the carpal tunnel. In some cases other things like benign tumors will need to be removed as well if they are discovered at the time of surgery.

There are a couple of choices regarding the type of surgery done to release the median nerve in the wrist. There is, for example, the open carpal tunnel release. The doctor makes a sizeable incision and dissects the tissues to the point of being able to see easily the transverse carpal ligament. It needs for the surgeon to make an incision in the hand and on the wrist before cutting the transverse carpal ligament. The recovery time is longer and the patient sustains a larger scar than is done in endoscopic surgery.

With the endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery, only a small incision is created in the wrist. In some cases, two small incisions are made. The transverse carpal ligament gets cut endoscopically and the recovery time and pain after surgery is less. There is unfortunately a higher risk of having to repeat the surgery with the endoscopic technique.

There is an open technique being done that involves a smaller incision. This means that the recovery time and post-surgical pain is lessened. The surgeon still has the ability to have full view of the transverse carpal ligament.

Nerve conduction velocity testing and electromyograms are done before deciding on surgery options. These tests make surgery more successful. Pregnant women with carpal tunnel syndrome should wait until after they deliver to have surgery because the problem often goes away after the pregnancy is over. Conditions similar to carpal tunnel but that don’t need surgery include rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. There are many conditions that make carpal tunnel syndrome worse. Choose an endoscopic surgeon, if you wish, who has a great deal of experience with the endoscopic technique.

In general, carpal tunnel syndrome is performed without difficulty. Minor and major complications do occur, however, and patients must make sure they have a qualified surgeon do the job for them. Most complications are temporary and are simply managed by the patient or by the patient’s surgery.

Minor complications include the following:

  • Infection.
  • Minor bleeding.
  • Swelling.
  • Numbness near the incision.
  • Stiffness of the wrist.
  • Painful scar.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Reaction to tape, dressing or latex.

The major complications of the carpal tunnel release are very uncommon. Those who tend to have serious complications are those with heart problems, severe diabetes, kidney disease or lung disease. Some complications lead to a prolonged hospital stay. Some lead to the necessity of having another surgery and, in rare cases, permanent disability or death can occur.

The major complications of carpal tunnel surgery include the following:

  • Ulnar nerve damage.
  • Median nerve damage.
  • Numbness in parts of the hand.
  • Damage to an artery in the hand or wrist.
  • Serious infection.
  • Incomplete carpal tunnel release.
  • Finger stiffness.
  • Serious allergic reaction to medication.
  • Anesthetic reaction.
  • Death.

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