Prospective randomized comparison of single-incision and two-incision carpal tunnel release outcomes
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This study analyzes both the subjective and objective symptom and functional outcomes of patients who underwent either traditional single-incision or two-incision carpal tunnel release (CTR).
From 2008 to 2009, patients with isolated carpal tunnel syndrome were randomized to undergo either single-incision or two-incision CTR by a single surgeon at a university medical center. Pre-operatively, participants completed a Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) Questionnaire, Brigham and Women's Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BWCTQ), as well as grip and pinch strength and Semmes–Weinstein monofilament sensation testing. At 2 weeks, 6 weeks and at least 6 months post-operatively, these measurements were repeated along with assessment of scar tenderness and pillar pain. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 software to perform non-parametric tests and Pearson's correlations. Significance was set at p = 0.05.
There was no statistically significant difference between the single- and two-incision CTR groups with respect to pre- and post-operative DASH scores, BWCTQ scores, grip strength, pinch strength, scar tenderness, or pillar pain. The only statistically significant difference was improved sensation by Semmes–Weinstein in the single-incision group in the second finger at 6 weeks post-operatively and in the third finger at 6 months post-operatively.
The preservation of the superficial nerves and subcutaneous tissue between the thenar and hypothenar eminences may account for reports of less scar tenderness and pillar pain among recipients of two-incision CTR compared to single-incision CTR in the early post-operative period. However, there is similar post-operative recovery and improvement in grip and pinch strength and sensation after 6+ months post-operatively.