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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Carpal Tunnel Release

Contact: (0191) 282 5647 - Sister or Nurse in Charge Ward 47, RVI

IntroductionShow [+]Hide [-]

This information is intended to help you understand the operation and the aftercare that will be necessary to achieve the best result possible.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on one of the two nerves in the wrist that supply the hand with feeling and power. Some of the symptoms are tingling, numbness, pins and needles, pain and clumsiness in carrying objects. The symptoms can get worse with time. The operation aims to give relief from these symptoms, although it is generally accepted that some symptoms may persist even after operation. It is performed with the intention to free the nerve from any compression and therefore relieve the symptoms. Without the operation, your numbness may progress and your affected hand becomes weak.

During your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

This operation may be carried out under either a local or general anaesthetic.
An information leaflet is available which will provide you with the details you require regarding your anaesthetic (The Trust Information Leaflet ‘You and Your
Anaesthetic’). A tourniquet is applied to the affected arm. It is similar to a blood pressure cuff and is filled with air. This helps the surgeon maintain a dry, blood free operation site during the procedure. An incision is made in the palm of the hand. The nerve is freed and the palm is closed with stitches. A dressing is applied. Sometimes a Plaster of Paris splint put in place to hold your wrist in the most comfortable position.

After your procedureShow [+]Hide [-]

After the operation you will return to the ward and may be allowed home later that day. The dressing should be kept dry until the sutures have been removed.
Appointments will be given to you to have the stitches removed at 10 days and to be reviewed in an outpatient clinic in approximately six weeks. Your wounds should be kept covered by dressings until the stitches are removed. Once your stitches have been removed you may be referred to physiotherapy for further treatment. Initially you must refrain from driving. Your Consultant will advise you on this.

Risks and complicationsShow [+]Hide [-]

  • If the wound becomes infected you may require a course of antibiotics.
  • At first your scar tissue may be tender or painful.
  • The area of your palm where the incision was made may be tender on pressure.
  • The operation may cause damage to a tendon or nerve.
  • Your symptoms may remain.
  • Very rarely there is an alteration in the way your hand sweats. This may cause swelling and discomfort.

For most patients this operation does not involve these complications and they are pleased with the results of surgery.

This is not a complete list of all the possible complications, but it is provided to act as an additional source of information, following your discussion about the operation.

If you require any further information or advice please contact either of the following:

Sister or Nurse in Charge Plastic Surgery Out Patient Department, RVI
(Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm)
Telephone:  (0191) 282 4228

Sister or Nurse in Charge Ward 47, RVI
(at any time)
Telephone:  (0191) 282 5647

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