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The incidence of trigger digit after carpal tunnel release in diabetic and nondiabetic patients.

PURPOSE: To determine whether patients with diabetes mellitus (DM) are at greater risk for developing postoperative trigger digits (TD) after carpal tunnel release (CTR) compared with patients without diabetes.

METHODS: A retrospective review of our electronic medical records identified all patients who had undergone CTR by a single hand fellowship-trained surgeon from September 2007 through May 2012. For patients with DM, additional information regarding method of disease control and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level was recorded. We recorded HbA1c levels 3 months before and 3 months after CTR. The location and time to development of postoperative, new-onset TD were recorded for each case. Statistical testing included chi-square or Student t test and multivariate logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Of the 1,217 CTRs, 214 had DM. Of the 1,003 CTRs in cases without DM, 3% developed TD within 6 months of CTR and 4% within 1 year of CTR, compared with 8% and 10%, respectively, for diabetic cases. A multivariate regression analysis revealed DM as a significant risk factor for developing TD after CTR at 6 and 12 months. We found no significant association between HbA1c level at the time of CTR and the likelihood of developing TD.

CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of TD after CTR was higher in the diabetic population compared with a nondiabetic cohort. The presence of DM rather than its severity was the most important factor for developing TD. Preoperative counseling for patients with DM undergoing CTR may alert them to the possibility of developing TD.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic IV.

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