Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


Many people I know are having surgery on their wrists because of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some say they have antibiotics before and others don't. Shouldn't they all have?


Giving antibiotics prophylactically, preventatively, is common with certain types of surgery. For example, surgery on your colon has a high risk of infection, so usually patients are treated with antibiotics beforehand. Other surgeries are not as cut-and-dry when it comes to how many people may develop an infection, so whether they are given antibiotics beforehand depends on the surgeon, the patient's overall condition, and hospital policy. Recent research has found that there doesn't seem to be a difference in infection rates after carpal tunnel syndrome surgery in patients who do or who do not receive antibiotics before the procedure. So, again, it boils down to what the surgeon feels is right for each individual. Neil G. Harness, MD, et al. Rate of Infection After Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery and Effect of Antibiotic Prophylaxis. In Journal of Hand Surgery. February 2010. Vol. 35. No. 2. Pp. 189-196.

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