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The safety and accuracy of various carpal tunnel injection techniques.

PURPOSE: Carpal tunnel (CT) syndrome continues to be a commonly treated hand pathology. We aimed to evaluate several CT injection techniques for (1) spatial accuracy within the CT and (2) risk of median nerve (MN) injury. Our purpose was to evaluate for any significant differences in accuracy of needle placement within the carpal tunnel and final distance between the needle tip and the MN with each technique.

METHODS: Fifteen fresh frozen cadaveric arms were used for this study. Six different injection techniques for CT injection were performed on each specimen, including palmaris longus, ulnar to flexor carpi radialis, trans-flexor carpi radialis, volar radial, volar ulnar, and direct through the palm techniques. After needle placement, a standard open CT release was performed to assess for accuracy of placement within the CT and measure needle position in relation to the MN and other anatomic structures.

RESULTS: Accurate intra-CT needle placement was seen in 91% of injections. While there was no significant difference between injection techniques for distance to nearest tendon (p = 0.1531), the trans-flexor carpi radialis (tFCR), volar radial (VR), and volar ulnar (VU) techniques consistently provided the greatest intra-CT distance from needle tip to median nerve (p = 0.0019). The least incidence of intraneural needle placement was found with the tFCR and VR approaches.

CONCLUSION: All six injection techniques reliably enter the CT space. The lowest risk to the MN was found with tFCR and VR techniques, and we recommend these techniques for safe and effective needle placement to avoid iatrogenic intraneural injection.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level V: Cadaveric Study.

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