The authors studied two different methods of anesthesia for carpal tunnel release surgery, local injection and intravenous regional (Bier block). Fifteen patients underwent staged bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery using the two different anesthetic techniques. Tourniquet times were on average eight minutes less when only local anesthesia was used. Both methods were well tolerated by the patients and similar outcomes from surgery were reported.
The results of this study support previous observations on carpal tunnel surgery using local anesthesia. In addition to an expected decrease in operative time, the total cost of the operation is diminished when compared to other forms of anesthesia. Nevertheless, intravenous regional anesthesia remains a practical alternative, especially when the patient is anxious or when supplemental procedures are anticipated.