Orthopedics: Infrared thermographic changes after decompression surgery in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome

Short summary of the thermography research

Background: Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI), which detects infrared rays emitted from body surface to create a body heat map, has been utilized at various musculocutaneous conditions. Notably, DITI can demonstrate autonomic vasomotor activity in the nerve-innervated area, and thus may be of use in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). In this study, we compared DITI findings before and after carpal tunnel release (CTR) surgery in patients with unilateral CTS to investigate the corresponding neurophysiological changes.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, DITI parameters such as the temperature differences between the median and ulnar nerve territories and median nerve-innervated digital anisometry were measured. Subjective symptom duration, pain scale, and ultrasonographic findings were also compared before and after CTR. Patients were evaluated before and 6 weeks after CTR, respectively.

Results: A total of 27 patients aged 59.0 ± 11.2 years were finally included. After CTR, median nerve-innervated thermal anisometry was improved (2.55 ± 0.96 °C to 1.64 ± 1.34 °C; p = 0.003). The temperature differences between the median and ulnar nerve territories were not significantly changed. Subjective pain, the Simovic Weinberg Clinical Scale, and palmar bowing of the flexor retinaculum were also significantly improved (p < 0.001 for all comparisons).

Conclusions: Our results demonstrated that DITI findings could reflect an improvement in autonomic function after CTR. Therefore, DITI can be an objective method to assess pre- and post-operative neurophysiologic changes in CTS.

Keywords: Carpal tunnel release; Carpal tunnel syndrome; Temperature; Thermography; Vasomotor activity, ortho, orthopeadics, orthopedie.

Park YE, Lee SE, Eom YS, Cho JM, Yang JW, Kim MS, Kwon HD, Lee JW, Park D. Infrared thermographic changes after decompression surgery in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2023 Jan 31;24(1):79. doi: 10.1186/s12891-023-06193-4. PMID: 36717815; PMCID: PMC9887906.
 
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