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Hand (N Y). 2007 Dec;2(4):173-8. doi: 10.1007/s11552-007-9043-5. Epub 2007 May 30.

A detailed cost and efficiency analysis of performing carpal tunnel surgery in the main operating room versus the ambulatory setting in Canada.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.



Our goals were to analyze cost and efficiency of performing carpal tunnel release (CTR) in the main operating room (OR) versus the ambulatory setting, and to document the venue of carpal tunnel surgery practices by plastic surgeons in Canada.


A detailed analysis of the salaries of nonphysician personnel and materials involved in CTR performed in these settings was tabulated. Hospital statistical records were used to calculate our efficiency analysis. A survey of practicing plastic surgeons in Canada documented the venue of CTR performed by most.


In a 3-h surgical block, we are able to perform nine CTRs in the ambulatory setting versus four in the main OR. The cost of CTR in the ambulatory setting is $36/case and $137/case in the main OR in the same hospital. Only 18% of Canadian respondents use the main OR exclusively for CTR, whereas 63% use it for some of their cases. The ambulatory setting is used exclusively by 37%, whereas 69% use it for greater than 95% of their cases. The majority of CTR cases (>95%) are done without an anesthesia provider by 73% of surgeons. Forty-three percent use epinephrine routinely with local anesthesia and 43% avoid the use of a tourniquet for at least some cases by using epinephrine for hemostasis.


The use of the main OR for CTR is almost four times as expensive, and less than half as efficient as in an ambulatory setting. In spite of this, many surgeons in Canada continue to use the more expensive, less efficient venue of the main OR for CTR.

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