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April 17, 1991

Symptoms May Return After Carpal Tunnel Surgery

JAMA. 1991;265(15):1922-1925. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460150014004

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THE INITIAL relief of carpal tunnel surgery may be shadowed by significant scar pain and weakness in almost a third of subjects after 2 years.

The surgery, in which the carpal tunnel is decompressed by release of the transverse ligament and debridement, is the most common surgery in the worker's compensation population. Painful scars were most common in patients receiving such compensation, compared to patients covered by private insurance or other forms of payment, according to a retrospective review of 60 cases at the State University of New York, Buffalo, School of Medicine.

"This high incidence of symptom recurrence has not been previously reported," says Michael P. Nancollas, MD, a fellow in hand surgery at the western New York school who presented the findings at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

Five-Year Follow-up  The study found at an average of 5.5 years' follow-up that 30% of