Promising new procedure for carpal tunnel patients

May 13, 2011 5:52:20 PM PDT
A new surgical option developed in the Bay Area is promising relief for patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, and with less scarring and recovery time.

As a busy public television executive, Sandy Ray sends more than her share of emails and text messages. But ultimately, her wrist and hand sent a painful message back to her.

"I woke up at night with a burning sensation in three fingers. [It was] so painful I couldn't sleep," says Ray, a carpal tunnel patient.

Carpal tunnel is a condition caused when thickened ligaments put pressure on surrounding nerves in the wrist.

Ray was scheduled for surgery near her home in Florida, but at the last minute she decided to fly to San Francisco to consult with Dr. Bruce McCormack. He helped develop a new procedure that promised to relieve her pain.

"This new technique minimizes the incision. It's the least invasive way to taking care of carpal tunnel," says McCormack, a neurosurgeon.

Rather than an open incision, the system, known as MANOS, employs a catheter-like device that is slid through the wrist and hand.

"Carpal tunnel is one of the most common procedures done in the U.S. We're not doing anything to change that success. We're just taking away the incision so patients aren't left with a disfiguring scar," says McCormack.

With local anesthetic, the patient is awake throughout the procedure, and in less than 10 minutes, McCormack is able to cut through the tendon and release the pressure.

In place of sutures, the holes are covered with two small Band-Aids. McCormack says patients typically recover in several days rather than weeks.

Ray's goal is to play in a golf tournament.

"We have a fundraiser coming up and I'm going to attempt to play."

Procedures done with the MANOS device are generally covered by insurance and treated the same as a conventional open incision surgery for carpal tunnel.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.


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