HealthDay News — Most patients who undergo open carpal tunnel release are pleased with the results and free of symptoms more than a decade later, according to researchers.

In a retrospective cohort study of 157 patients who underwent open carpal tunnel release from 1996 to 2000, 88% reported they were completely or very satisfied with outcomes and 87% indicated they had good symptomatic relief at mean 13 year follow-up, Philip E. Blazar, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and colleagues reported in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

“Our results suggest that the long-term results of open carpal tunnel release are excellent, with patients experiencing consistent pain relief over 10 to 15 years,” they wrote.

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The researchers assessed functional and symptomatic outcomes among 157 patients who underwent open carpal tunnel release performed by the same surgeon using validated, self-administered questionnaires. Outcomes included satisfaction with surgery and the Levine-Katz symptom and function scores, ranging from 1 point (best) to 5 points (worst).

The majority of patients, 74%, reported complete resolution of symptoms. Mean Levine-Katz symptom score was 1.3 points, and 13% of patients had a poor symptom score (≥2 points).

About one quarter of patients (26%) had a poor function score (≥2), with a mean Levine-Katz function score of 1.6 points. More men than women had poor function (33% vs. 23%). Two patients had repeat surgery.

Weakness in the hand was the most common symptom-related complaint, followed by diurnal pain, numbness and tingling. Nocturnal pain and tenderness at the incision were the least common symptoms.

In an accompanying commentary, Peter J. Stern, MD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, commended the authors for validating initial favorable data regarding the efficacy of carpal tunnel release first published in 1966.

“[T]he authors provide convincing outcome evidence confirming the observation by Phalen nearly fifty years ago that open carpal tunnel decompression provides a high level of patient satisfaction and symptomatic relief regardless of age, sex or comorbidities,” Stern wrote.


  1. Dexter LL et al. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2013; 95(12):1067-1073.
  2. Stern PJ. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2013; 95(12);e88 1-2.