Modifications of arterial blood flow to the hand after carpal tunnel release.

Published online: Sep 27 1998

F Schuind, T Nguyen, M Vancabeke, and J C Wautrecht.

Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Cliniques Universitaires de Bruxelles, Université libre de Bruxelles, Hôpital Erasme, Belgium.


Any surgical procedure is followed by an inflammatory reaction, associated with arteriolar dilatation and increased capillary permeability. The normal evolution is in most cases a progressive decrease of the inflammatory signs. Some patients however, particularly after orthopedic trauma affecting the extremities, develop algodystrophy, initially characterized by arterial vasodilatation and low capillary flow. In an effort to better understand the normal phenomena seen after uncomplicated hand surgery, the authors have evaluated the postoperative arterial blood flow using the Duplex flowmetry ultrasound technique in 13 patients operated for carpal tunnel syndrome, who did not subsequently develop algodystrophy. After measurement of the transverse section of the ulnar and radial arteries, and longitudinal measurement of the mean velocimetry, the arterial blood flow was calculated. The measurements were done 1, 2 and 4 weeks after the operative procedure. The study demonstrated a moderate (15%-30%) but significant increase in the arterial blood flow to the hand, related to arterial dilatation of the vessels and to an increase in blood velocimetry.