Complications of carpal tunnel surgery

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✓ During a 12-year period, the authors treated 25 patients with 26 complications of previous carpal tunnel surgery. Twenty-four of these patients were referred following initial surgery elsewhere. The most frequent complication identified was neuroma of the palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve in 14 of the cases. Other complications were hypertrophic scars, dysesthesias after multiple procedures to release the carpal tunnel, joint stiffness, failure to relieve symptoms, and neuromas of the dorsal sensory branch of the radial nerve. All of these complications are potentially preventable. With a properly placed incision, exposure carried out under magnification, and surgery under direct vision the majority of these complications may be prevented. It is further noted that the technique of transverse incision at the wrist for release of the carpal tunnel is potentially dangerous and should be abandoned.

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Address reprint requests to: Dean S. Louis, M.D., C4500 Outpatient, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109.

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