Tourniquet Does Not Affect Long-term Outcomes in Minor Hand Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial

S. de Roo, J. Teunissen, M. Rutten and B. van der Heijden

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open 2022;10:e4495.



Surgeons often prefer to use a tourniquet during minor procedures, such as carpal tunnel release (CTR) or trigger finger release (TFR). Besides the possible discomfort for the patient, the effect of tourniquet use on long-term results and complications is unknown. Our primary aim was to compare the patient-reported outcomes 1 year after CTR or TFR under local anesthesia with or without tourniquet. Secondary outcomes included satisfaction, sonographically estimated scar tissue thickness after CTR, and postoperative complications.


Between May 2019 and May 2020, 163 patients planned for open CTR or TFR under local anesthesia were included. Before surgery, and at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively, Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand and Boston Carpal Tunnel questionnaires were administered, and complications were noted. At 6 months postoperatively, an ultrasound was conducted to determine the thickness of scar tissue in the region of median nerve.


A total of 142 patients (51 men [38%]) were included. The Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire and Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire scores improved significantly in both groups during follow-up, wherein most improvements were seen in the first 3 months. No difference in clinical outcome and scar tissue formation was found between the two groups after 12 months. The complication rate was comparable between both groups. Thirty-two (24%) patients had at least one complication, none needed surgical interventions, and no recurrent symptoms were seen.


Our study shows similar long-term clinical outcomes, formation of scar tissue, and complication rates for patients undergoing CTR or TFR with or without a tourniquet. Tourniquet usage should be based on shared decision-making.