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Outcomes of Open Carpal Tunnel Release at a Minimum of Ten Years
Dexter L. Louie, BA1; Brandon E. Earp, MD1; Jamie E. Collins, MA1; Elena Losina, PhD1; Jeffrey N. Katz, MD1; Eric M. Black, MD1; Barry P. Simmons, MD1; Philip E. Blazar, MD1
1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery (D.L.L., B.E.E., J.E.C., E.L., J.N.K., E.M.B., B.P.S., and P.E.B.), Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy (J.N.K.), and Department of Biostatistics (J.E.C. and E.L.), Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

A commentary by Peter J. Stern, MD, is linked to the online version of this article at jbjs.org.

Disclosure: One or more of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of an aspect of this work. In addition, one or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Jun 19;95(12):1067-1073. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00903
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There is little research on the long-term outcomes of open carpal tunnel release. The purpose of this retrospective study was to determine the functional and symptomatic outcomes of patients at a minimum of ten years postoperatively.


Two hundred and eleven patients underwent open carpal tunnel release from 1996 to 2000 performed by the same hand fellowship-trained surgeon. Follow-up with validated self-administered questionnaire instruments was conducted an average of thirteen years after surgery. The principal outcomes included the Levine-Katz symptom and function scores, ranging from 1 point (best) to 5 points (worst), and satisfaction with the results of surgery. The patients self-reported current comorbidities.


After a mean follow-up of thirteen years (range, eleven to seventeen years), 92% (194) of 211 patients were located. They included 140 who were still living and fifty-four who had died. Seventy-two percent (113) of the 157 located, surviving patients responded to the questionnaire. The mean Levine-Katz symptom score (and standard deviation) was 1.3 ± 0.5 points, and 13% of patients had a poor symptom score (≥2 points). The mean Levine-Katz function score was 1.6 ± 0.8 points, and 26% had a poor function score (≥2 points). The most common symptom-related complaint was weakness in the hand, followed by diurnal pain, numbness, and tingling. The least common symptoms were nocturnal pain and tenderness at the incision. Eighty-eight percent of the patients were either completely satisfied or very satisfied with the surgery. Seventy-four percent reported their symptoms to be completely resolved. Thirty-three percent of men were classified as having poor function compared with 23% of women. Two (1.8%) of 113 patients underwent repeat surgery.


At an average of thirteen years after open carpal tunnel release, the majority of patients are satisfied and free of symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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