Minimally invasive ultrasound-guided vs open release for carpal tunnel syndrome in working population: A randomized controlled trial

J Clin Ultrasound. 2021 Sep;49(7):693-703. doi: 10.1002/jcu.23019. Epub 2021 May 27.


Purpose: To compare the clinical effectiveness of minimally invasive ultrasound (US)-guided vs open release for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Methods: In an open randomized controlled trial, 47 employed patients were allocated to US-guided carpal tunnel release (USCTR) and 42 to an open carpal tunnel release (OCTR) procedure. The main outcome was symptom severity measured by the Boston Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Questionnaire (BCTQ-S). Secondary outcomes were hand functionality (BCTQ-F), nerve conduction, two-point discrimination, handgrip and pinch strength, pain (visual analog scale), work leave and complications. For BCTQ-S and BCTQ-F, minimal clinically important differences (MCID) were also considered. Follow-up duration was 12 months.

Results: Mixed model analyses detected no significant differences between the two treatment arms in BCTQ-S (P = .098) while BCTQ-F scores were significantly better in the USCTR group (P = .007). This benefit was, however, not supported by the MCID data. Remaining variables were similar in the two groups except pain which was lower in USCTR at 3 months follow-up. All variables but two-point discrimination showed significant improvement after 3 months.

Conclusions: Our findings reveal similar symptom relief benefits following OCTR or USCTR in these patients. The patients in our USCTR group, however, reported better hand functional status and less pain.

Keywords: carpal tunnel syndrome; hand; minimally invasive surgical procedures; musculoskeletal ultrasonography; nerves.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome* / diagnostic imaging
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome* / surgery
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional