How Effective is Endoscopic Surgery to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

How Effective is Endoscopic Surgery to Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Posted on 04/19/2018

If you have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), then you have probably tried a variety of different remedies to alleviate your symptoms and restore the full use of your hand and wrist again. While many treatments provide temporary relief for the majority of patients, those who suffer severely or have repeated bouts of CTS may find themselves considering surgical intervention. In the past, patients had no choice but to have a highly invasive procedure. However, as with most medical procedures, CTS surgery has evolved, there is now a much more minimally invasive option available to patients – endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery.

Endoscopic surgery vs. ‘open’ surgery

Until the invention of endoscopic procedures, patients who chose to have their CTS treated surgically had to undergo a procedure that involved making an incision into the wrist that was opened up enough to be able to see and operate on the compressed carpal tunnel.

The aim of any type of carpal tunnel release surgery is to sever the carpal tunnel sheath, which will then relieve pressure on the median nerve that serves the wrist and hand.

The incision made in conventional – or ‘open’ carpal tunnel release surgery leaves reasonable scar and demands months of rest and physical therapy if the patient is to make a reasonable recovery. Even then, although pain is largely relieved, patients usually still experience loss of strength and stiffness in the joint. Unfortunately, many patients also find that the symptoms of CTS do eventually return, although it may take several years for them to be obvious.  

In endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery, the entire procedure is carried out through a single, smaller incision through which an endoscope – a long, flexible tube containing a light and camera is inserted. The cutting tools used to sever the carpal tunnel are tiny and can be inserted through another small incision.

Benefits of endoscopic surgery

Endoscopic carpal tunnel release surgery has a number of benefits over conventional ‘open’ surgery. These include:

-         Reduced risk of infection due to the wounds being much smaller

-         Minimal scarring

-         Shorter recovery time

-         Faster recovery of pinch grip and strength in the fingers, hand and wrist

-         Less pain during the recovery process

-         Less physical therapy required

Is endoscopic surgery any more effective than open surgery?

When it comes to the effectiveness of carpal tunnel surgery, the results are pretty consistent across both endoscopic and conventional open varieties. Although CT release surgery will help to alleviate the pain associated with the condition, and other symptoms may have a reprieve, the likelihood of the condition returning is still high.

While there are some considerations to make – including a longer operative time, a higher risk of nerve damage and greater cost associated with the procedure itself – most patients find that the benefits of endoscopic surgery outweigh any disadvantages, particularly if there is a strong likelihood that further carpal tunnel release surgeries may be required in the future. Contact us to know more.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.