Our hand surgeons at The Orthopaedic Group, P.C. now give patients the option of having surgery for some conditions, such as trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome, without being put to sleep. Along with being more efficient and less costly, this wide-awake surgery allows patients to chat with their doctor throughout the procedure.
The turn-around time from patient prep to discharge is about an hour. Most of that time is spent waiting for the local anesthesia—an injection of lidocaine and epinephrine—to take effect. Typically, under general anesthesia, carpal tunnel surgery would be a three-to-four-hour process for a six-minute procedure.
“We’re talking to the patients the entire time so they know what we’re doing. The interaction helps us test movement in the hand during the surgery, which improves outcomes,” says Nicholas Rachel, MD. Thomas M. Barbour III, MD also performs wide-awake procedures.
“There is a lower risk of infection for the patient, no side effects from sedation, and it is considerably cheaper without the anesthesia or facility fees,” Dr. Barbour adds.
Patients seem to enjoy the interaction with the surgeon, as it allows them to take an active role in the process.