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Open Release Surgery

In open carpal tunnel surgery, your doctor will make an incision in your palm and release the transverse carpal ligament to enlarge the carpal tunnel.


  • Make your doctor aware of any allergies you have, especially to medications or latex.
  • Do not take aspirin or any product containing aspirin, ibuprofen or Vitamin E for two weeks before your surgery, unless directed by your doctor.
  • The night before and the day of your surgery, scrub your hand with an antibacterial soap for several minutes. Trim your fingernails and scrub them with a nail brush. Do not wear rings, nail polish, or artificial nails.
  • Bring someone with you to drive you home.


  • Your preference and your situation dictate the level of anesthesia that is right for you. We want you to be as comfortable as possible. Generally, the more anesthesia you have, the longer you must stay at Dartmouth-Hitchcock to recover, but you will go home the same day.
  • If you want, you may be given something to help you relax.
  • General anesthesia is an option that puts you to sleep during the procedure.
  • More common options are local or regional anesthetics, which numb your hand or arm but do not put you to sleep. You may feel pressure, but will not feel pain. We can give you more anesthesia later if needed.

The procedure

  • A tight tourniquet will be placed around your arm to help prevent bleeding.
  • Your doctor will make an incision in your palm and cut the ligament before stitching the incision closed. Your hand is bandaged and you are allowed to recover while the anesthesia wears off.


  • Your nurse will discuss post-operative care with you. You will receive written instructions, and make an appointment for a follow-up visit.
  • If you need medication for pain, take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or the medication your doctor has prescribed you.

Contact information

  • During office hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday), our doctors and nurses can be reached at (603) 650-HAND (4263).
  • On weekends or after hours, call (603) 650-5000 and ask the operator to page the plastic surgeon or orthopedic surgeon on call.
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