This article represents a literature review of all published complications of open and endoscopic carpal tunnel release procedures. The authors reviewed 80 publications from the period of 1966-2001. This literature review yielded 22,237 cases of endoscopic carpal tunnel release and 5,669 cases of open carpal tunnel release. For structural damage to nerves, arteries or tendons, the incidence for open carpal tunnel release was 0.49% and for endoscopic methods was 0.19%. This difference was statistically significant. This retrospective literature review suggests that there were an overall greater proportion of structural complications in open carpal tunnel release than in endoscopic carpal tunnel release.
This is an attempt to answer the very highly contested subject which surrounds carpal tunnel release techniques. The study supports the premise that the published literature does not document the concern over neurovascular injuries which have surrounded the endoscopic procedure. There was a higher satisfaction rate in the endoscopic group. However, the limitations of this type of report are obvious. It is clear that the endoscopic technique involves a learning curve and prospective studies have shown a higher complication rate with endoscopic methods (Brown RA, Gelberman RH et. Al, JBJS 75: 1265-75, 1993).
Carpal, Tunnel, Complications, Endoscopic