The role of flexor tenosynovectomy in the operative treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome

Charlotte Shum*, May Parisien, Robert J. Strauch, Melvin P. Rosenwasser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: We conducted a prospective, randomized study to evaluate the effect of flexor tenosynovectomy as an adjunct to open carpal tunnel release for the treatment of idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome and reviewed the histological characteristics of the flexor tenosynovium to identify possible correlations between histopathology and symptoms. Methods: Eighty-eight wrists in eighty-seven patients with idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome were randomized to open carpal tunnel release with or without flexor tenosynovectomy. A validated self-administered questionnaire for the assessment of symptom severity and functional status was completed both before and after the operation to assess patient outcome. The study group included fifteen men and seventy-two women with a mean age of fifty-eight years. All patients were followed for a minimum of twelve months after the operation. Intraoperatively, the tenosynovium of all patients was graded on the basis of its gross appearance. Half of the wrists were then treated with a flexor tenosynovectomy through the operative incision, and the tenosynovium was graded histologically. Correlations were sought between the gross appearance of the tenosynovium and the preoperative and postoperative symptoms and functional status, between the histologic appearance of the tenosynovium and the preoperative and postoperative symptoms and functional status, and between the gross and the histologic findings. Results: After the operation, both groups improved significantly with respect to symptom severity and functional status (paired t test), with no significant difference between the groups (unpaired t test). No significant correlation was found between the gross appearance of the tenosynovium and the preoperative or postoperative symptoms and functional status, between the histologic appearance of the tenosynovium and the preoperative or postoperative symptoms and functional status, or between the gross and the histologic findings. Conclusions: We observed neither an added benefit nor an increased rate of morbidity in association with the performance of a flexor tenosynovectomy at the time of carpal tunnel release. We identified no clinical correlations that might predict which individuals would benefit from flexor tenosynovectomy on the basis of either the gross (intraoperative) or histologic evaluation of the flexor tenosynovium. Our findings suggest that routine flexor tenosynovectomy offers no benefit compared with sectioning of the transverse carpal ligament alone for the treatment of idiopathic carpal tunnel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Volume84
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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