Carpal tunnel surgery is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries performed in the United States every year, so as you can imagine, a lot of patients have questions about how much this procedure will cost. Let’s work our way through some of these numbers to give an estimate as to what this might be.
Carpal tunnel surgery typically involves two popular types of approaches. One is referred to as a “mini-open” procedure where the wrist is cut open and the carpal tunnel ligament that is compressing the median nerve is cut so that the median nerve is no longer compressed and is able to heal. The other approach to carpal tunnel surgery is with the use of real-time ultrasound guidance. Carpal tunnel release with real-time ultrasound guidance is a minimally invasive technique, where a sheathed knife is placed through a small incision and is able to cut the carpal tunnel ligament without cutting through the surrounding tissues.
When figuring out the cost, it’s important to consider which type of approach you are undergoing. A “mini-open” or traditional approach typically involves general anesthesia and is done in a surgical center or hospital. General anesthesia and having the procedure done in a hospital or surgery center can increase the fees associated with the procedure. In contrast, carpal tunnel surgery with ultrasound guidance can be performed in an office setting with only local anesthesia, and thus requires much less in the way of cost.
Additionally, traditional carpal tunnel surgery requires weeks of physical therapy, more follow up appointments and missing work for 6-12 weeks, whereas carpal tunnel release with ultrasound guidance does not require post procedure physical therapy, less follow up appointments and patients typically return to work in 1-2 days.
With all that said, let’s take a look at some actual numbers based on ranges from billing data collected from 2020 in the Southeastern United States. These are meant to provide an estimate comparison and are not meant to give an exact price on a specific procedure.
|Traditional Procedure||Carpal Tunnel Release with Ultrasound Guidance|
|Patient out-of-pocket||$4,715 – $6,758||$2,750|
|Physical/ Occupational Therapy Costs||6-8 Visits for $800 Total||$0|
|Specialty office visit co-pay for suture removal and follow-ups||3 Visits for $120 Total||$0|
|Lost time at work||6 – 12 Weeks||1 – 2 Days|
|Total patient out-of-pocket without insurance and no deductible met||$5,635 – $7,678 AND 6-12 weeks of missed work||$2,750 AND 1-2 days of missed work|
Again, these prices are of course estimates, but do show a trend on the average costs associated with these procedures. Because of lower facility fees, no general anesthesia, PT visits, and much quicker return to work, the cost of a carpal tunnel release with real-time ultrasound guidance procedure is usually much less money compared with the traditional carpal tunnel surgery.