Sonographic short-term follow-up after surgical decompression of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel: a single-center prospective observational study

The carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a chronic compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, a condition in which the nerve is constricted especially under the flexor retinaculum (FR). The disease predominantly ap
The carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a chronic compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, a condition in which the nerve is constricted especially under the flexor retinaculum (FR). The disease predominantly appears between 40 and 83 years of age. Women are significantly more often affected than men. The same applies to overweight people in comparison to normal weight people. Abnormal sensations at night, including paresthesias and dysesthesias, are classical CTS symptoms, predominately involving the middle fingers, later also the thumb. Diagnosis of CTS usually proceeds by motor nerve conduction study (mNCS) and determination of the distal motoric latency (DML). In conformity with electrophysiology, peripheral nerve ultrasonography has also attained an important diagnostic informative value. In principle, there is an open surgical procedure and an endoscopic carpal roof cleavage. The goal of therapy is the complete open division of the flexor retinaculum (FR) in order to relieve the median nerve from compression. 
This work examines the morphological alterations of the median nerve at the site of the carpal tunnel after surgical decompression by means of high-resolution neurosonography in the scope of a prospective study. More than 100 patients were examined between October and December 2014 for planned decompressions surgery due to CTS. A total of 81 patients were prospectively included, 5 of which could not take part in the follow-up after six months and were excluded from this evaluation. A medical CTS case history, clinical examination findings, as well as a neurographic result were included. Patients with a relapse operation were not considered in this regard. Apart from a clinical examination and questioning of the patient three and six months after surgery, an electrophysiological examination and a high-resolution sonography of the median nerve were also carried out. Electroneurography and nerve sonography of the median nerve were applied to both hands. A prolonged distal motor latency of the median nerve amounting to 4ms, as well as a slowed nerve conduction velocity below the benchmark value of approx. 45m/s, were classified as pathological findings. In sonography, the largest cross-section area (CSA) of the median nerve was measured by applying transversal slicing to the distal transverse creases of the skin on the palmar surface of the wrist (rasceta) as well as 5cm proximal to the rasceta. The highest CSA values were determined visually. In cases of doubt several transversal slices were made until the highest CSA value could be identified.
The average age at which the disease was contracted amounted to 56.9 years. With one exception, all patients complained of nocturnal brachialgia before surgery (74, 96.2%). As far as neurological symptoms were concerned, 72 patients had paresthesias (93.6%) and 29 patients (37.7%) felt permanent numbness. A thenar atrophy of higher degree was diagnosed in two patients (2.6%). These complaints had improved in the patients surveyed in the scope of postoperative evaluations after three and six months. 
Patients with motor deficits had a statistically significantly longer preoperative distal motor latency (10.5 ± 2.8ms vs. 6.5 ± 2.3ms). We observed an improvement of distal motor latency in 98% of the patients three months and six months after surgical decompression, displaying a statistically significant DML decrease from 6.6 ± 2.4ms to 4.8 ± 1.0ms and from 6.6 ± 2.4ms to 4.4 ± 1.0ms, respectively. There was a statistically significant correlation between the decrease of the nerve cross-section area and the decrease of distal motor latency. 
At the time of the follow-up examination, three months after surgery, we were able to document a decrease in the CSA value in 80% of the patients. The mean CSA value decreased from 14.7 ± 4.4mm² to 12.4 ± 3.4 mm². Six months after surgical decompression the mean CSA value decreased from 14.3 ± 4.4mm² to 9.6 ± 2.3mm². Patients with a preoperative CSA value of ≥ 12mm² displayed a significantly greater relative reduction of their postoperative CSA value. Concerning all preoperative and postoperative parameters in patients who had undergone either open or endoscopic surgery, none revealed significant differences. Neither could an exploratory analysis (i.e. age, diabetic diseases) reveal any significant correlation between the parameters. Prior to surgery, a flattening of the median nerve or a loss of its fascicular structure (texture) had also been seen to exist in patients, apart from the nerve's larger cross-section area. Nerve sonography is an inexpensive and fast method. It is also extraordinarily reliable in the assessment of the CTS diagnosis and suits the necessary demands. We achieved a good efficiency with our sonographic examinations in the study presented here. New and improved developments show that high-resolution sonography will gain more and more significance in future CTS diagnostics. 
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Author:Süleyman Tas
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Stephan Dützmann, Jürgen Konczalla
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2020/03/04
Year of first Publication:2019
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2020/02/24
Release Date:2020/03/25
HeBIS PPN:461525518
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License Logo Veröffentlichungsvertrag für Publikationen

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