Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 December 2014
Carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow are the most common entrapment neuropathies seen in adults. Surgery for nerve decompression is a safe and effective treatment option, and is usually performed under local anesthesia and as an outpatient procedure. This study aimed to explore patients' satisfaction and other aspects of the overall experience with this type of surgery.
Qualitative research methodology was used. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with 30 adult patients who had undergone carpal tunnel release or ulnar nerve decompression at the elbow 6-24 months prior. Interviews were digitally audio recorded and transcribed, and the data subjected to thematic analysis.
Four overarching themes emerged from the data: (1) most patients did not perceive their condition to be serious; (2) patients were satisfied with the overall surgical experience; (3) the outcome was more important to patients than the process; and (4) majority of patients had a realistic expectation of outcomes.
Patients had a positive experience with carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve decompression surgery, although their level of satisfaction was dependent on the surgical outcome. Areas requiring improvement, specifically information about post-operative care and expectations of recovery, will be implemented in the future care of patients.