Trends in open and endoscopic carpal tunnel release utilization in the Medicare patient population

Tsun Yee Law, Samuel Rosas, Zachary S. Hubbard, Lee Onn Chieng, Harvey Chim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background Surgical management of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is performed with an open or endoscopic approach. Current literature suggests that the endoscopic approach is associated with higher costs and a steeper learning curve. This study evaluated the billing and utilization trends of both approaches. Methods A retrospective review of a Medicare database within the PearlDiver Supercomputer (Warsaw, IN) was performed for patients undergoing open carpal tunnel release (OCTR) or endoscopic carpal tunnel release (ECTR) from 2005-2012. Annual utilization, charges, reimbursement, demographic data, and compound annual growth rate (CAGR) were evaluated. Results Our query returned 1,500,603 carpal tunnel syndrome patients, of which 507,924 (33.8%) and 68,768 (4.6%) were surgically managed with OCTR and ECTR respectively (remainder treated conservatively). Compound annual growth rate was significantly higher in ECTR (5%) than OCTR (0.9%; P < 0.001). Average charges were higher in OCTR (3820) than ECTR (2952), whereas reimbursements were higher in ECTR (mean 1643) than OCTR (mean 1312). Both were performed most commonly in the age range of 65-69 y, females, and southern geographic region. Conclusions ECTR is growing faster than OCTR in the Medicare population. Contrary to previous literature, our study shows that ECTR had lower charges and reimbursed at a higher rate than OCTR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-13
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Jun 15 2017


  • Carpal tunnel
  • Endoscopic carpal tunnel release
  • Medicare
  • Open carpal tunnel release
  • Outcomes research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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