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Singapore Med J. 2006 Dec;47(12):1049-52.

Clinical profile, electrodiagnosis and outcome in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome: a Singapore perspective.

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Neurodiagnostic Laboratory, National Neuroscience Institute, 11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore.



Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS ) is the most common entrapment neuropathy seen in our neurodiagnostic laboratory referrals. We describe the clinical profile, and outcome in patients with electrophysiological diagnosis of CTS seen in our centre over a six month period.


A retrospective study was carried out and included 134 consecutive patients with CTS referred to the Neurodiagnostic Laboratory, National Neuroscience Institute, from October 2003 to March 2004, for the confirmatory testing. Severity grade was assigned following American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine criteria of CTS.


The majority of patients were female (81.3 percent) with mean age of presentation being 53.6 years. Chinese women constitute the majority racial group. Paraesthesia (70.1 percent) and numbness (19.4 percent) were the presenting sensory symptoms. In the nerve conduction study, 108 patients had bilateral CTS with 35 having unilateral symptoms. Dominant hand involvement was present in 92.3 percent. Overall, 40.3 percent had mild, 46.3 percent had moderate and 13.4 percent had severe CTS, with median duration of symptoms of two, four and 12 months, respectively. Follow-up data were available for 115 patients. 27 patients with surgical treatment showed resolution or improvement in 53.3 percent with moderate CTS, and 83.3 percent with severe CTS, at three-month follow-up. 14 patients turned up for six-month follow-up and 92.9 percent showed improvement in symptoms. 88 patients were managed conservatively; symptoms were unchanged or worsened in 80.6 percent with mild CTS, 65.9 percent with moderate CTS, and 62.5 percent with severe CTS at three-month follow-up. Of the 54 patients who turned up for six-month follow-up, the clinical symptom remain unchanged or worsened in 68.5 percent.


The severity of CTS is associated with longer duration of symptoms. Sensory symptoms and dominant hand involvement is more common. There is a high default rate in the clinical follow-up. Early surgical intervention results in either resolution or improvement in symptoms, whereas conservative management does not affect the natural history with symptoms that persisted or worsened with time.

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