Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


I'm going to have a carpal tunnel release this month. The surgeon showed me a special combination knife and light that will be used to make the cut. I didn't really understand how this works. Can you tell me?


The knifelight is a special instrument that allows the surgeon to cut the flexor retinaculum without actually seeing it. The retinaculum is a band of tissue that crosses the wrist. This fibrous band can put pressure on the carpal tunnel causing mild to severe symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

A carpal tunnel release involves cutting the retinaculum in half from bottom to top. Usually an incision must be made to open the wrist so the surgeon can see the retinaculum fully. With a mini-open incision, the bottom edge of the retinaculum shows and the knifelight is used the finish the cut.

With the operating room lights off, the knifelight lights up the middle of the palm when the retinaculum is cut all the way through. Operation and recovery time are shorter with this method.

Paolo Cellocco, MD, et al. Mini-Open Blind Procedure Versus Limited Open Technique for Carpal Tunnel Release: A 30-Month Follow-Up Study. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. May 2005. Vol. 30A. No. 3. Pp. 493-499.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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