Article

Economic impact of anaesthesia methods used in hand surgery: Global costs and operating room's throughput

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Abstract

PURPOSE : Recently, local anaesthesia has become popular among hand surgeons. We hypothesized that using the ‘’wide awake local anaesthesia, no tourniquet’’ (WALANT) approach would result in lower global costs and in an increase of the operating room's efficiency. METHODS : All cases of carpal tunnel and trigger finger releases performed over 2016 and 2017 were divided into four groups, following which anaesthesia method was used. Total operating room occupation time, surgical time and the ‘’all but surgery’’ time were analysed. A common minimal bill per anaesthesia was generated. RESULTS : WALANT or local anaesthesia & tourniquet increase the operating room's throughput by having shorter operation room occupation times than other methods (17.5-33%). Costs of the two procedures are reduced by 21-31% when using local anaesthesia methods. CONCLUSION : Preferring those techniques for carpal tunnel and trigger finger releases has a notable beneficial impact on the costs and on the operating room's efficiency. This effect is more evident on short surgical procedures. LOE : Level of evidence III, economic analysis.

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... Following implementation of this pathway, the authors demonstrated a 31% reduction in total costs and 34% reduction in total time spent by patients at the facility, with no changes in quality of outcomes or patient experience [21]. Other studies have also demonstrated greater operative throughput and workflow efficiencies with the incorporation of WALANT [15,22]. ...
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As surgical management of carpal tunnel release (CTR) becomes ever more common, extensive research has emerged to optimize the contextualization of this procedure. In particular, CTR under the wide-awake, local-anesthesia, no-tourniquet (WALANT) technique has emerged as a cost-effective, safe, and straightforward option for the millions who undergo this procedure worldwide. CTR under WALANT is associated with considerable cost savings and workflow efficiencies; it can be safely and effectively executed in an outpatient clinic under field sterility with less use of resources and production of waste, and it has consistently demonstrated standard or better post-operative pain control and satisfaction among patients. In this review of the literature, we describe the current findings on CTR using the WALANT technique.
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Distal upper limb surgery is performed under WALANT (Wide Awake Local Anesthesia No Tourniquet) in many outpatient centers because the benefits are numerous: simple, low-cost technique, with fast turnover and short length of stay. In view of a paucity of data concerning patient satisfaction, this non-randomized cohort study was designed to compare EVAN-LR anesthesia satisfaction questionnaire results (information, pain, expectation, attention, discomfort: 0-100 points) between patients receiving WALANT or axillary nerve block (AxB). After IRB approval, patients (>18 years, stable ASA 1-3) scheduled for outpatient distal upper limb surgery were prospectively enrolled in the two groups. At discharge, patients in both groups received standard information on postoperative recovery and care, with a multimodal analgesic regime (acetaminophen and ketoprofen for 5 days). The primary endpoint was EVAN-LR score before discharge. Secondary endpoints were pain relief and side-effects over a 7-day period. Results were recorded as median and 25-75% interquartile range. Propensity-score-matched analysis was performed. Over the study period, from October 2019 to November 2020, 183 patients were included; 48 WALANT patients were propensity-score matched to 48 AxB patients. Pre-procedural APAIS anxiety score was lower in the WALANT than the AxB group: 9 (IQR, 6-12) vs 12 (IQR, 8-14) (p = 0.01). EVAN-LR scores were similar between the WALANT (78 [72-82]) and the AxB group (73[67-80]. Incidences of paresthesia and of pain (NRS pain score, opioid rescue) were similar. WALANT patients had shorter length of stay: 135 (110-175) min vs 170 (110-250) min (p = 0.01). The present study demonstrated that WALANT was associated with a high level of patient satisfaction. For clinical relevance and quality of care, WALANT should be proposed in first line for distal limb surgery.
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Objective: To observe the effectiveness of disposable skin stretch closure in the treatment of wounds with skin and soft tissue defects that were difficult to close. Methods: The clinical data of 13 patients with skin and soft tissue defects that were difficult to close treated with disposable skin stretch closure and met the selection criteria between July 2021 and February 2022 were retrospectively reviewed. There were 9 males and 4 females, the age ranged from 15 to 71 years with a mean of 39.8 years. The causes of injury included falling injury in 5 patients, traffic accident injury in 5 patients, and falling from height injury in 3 patients. The causes of skin soft tissue defects included open fractures in 4 patients, wound infection in 4 patients, osteomyelitis in 3 patients, degloving injury in 1 patient, and necrosis of skin graft in 1 patient. The injury was located at calf in 8 patients, calcaneus in 3 patients, pelvis in 1 patient, and plantar in 1 patient. The skin and soft tissue defects ranged from 5.0 cm×2.0 cm to 10.5 cm×6.5 cm. Wound conditions (wound closure and wound healing) and the presence or absence of complications were recorded. Results: All 13 patients were followed up 32-225 days with a median of 164 days. The wound closure time ranged from 5 to 14 days, with a mean of 8.8 days. The wound closure speed ranged from 0.7 to 13.7 cm 2/day, with a mean of 3.6 cm 2/day. All wounds healed at grade A, and no complication such as skin edge injury, wound necrosis, infection, dehiscence, and edema occurred. No patient complained of pain or discomfort, and no obvious scarring was found during follow-up. The wound healing time ranged from 17 to 28 days, with a mean of 21.7 days. One of them was transferred to other department due to lung cancer condition changes after using disposable skin stretch closure, and the wound had directly healed without suturing at 17 days after operation. Conclusion: The effectiveness of disposable skin stretch closure in the treatment of wounds with skin and soft tissue defects that were difficult to close was exact, with short wound closure time, few complications, and easy operation.
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Purpose Wide-awake local anesthesia with no tourniquet has dramatically changed hand surgery practice. Using lidocaine with epinephrine and no tourniquet has allowed many procedures to be moved from the main operating room to an in-office procedure room. Previous studies have shown that using local anesthesia is safe and cost effective, with high patient satisfaction. This study evaluated patient satisfaction and complications for the first 1,011 elective hand surgeries performed using wide-awake anesthesia in an in-office procedure room. Methods The first 1,011 patients who underwent elective hand surgery in an in-office procedure room were surveyed regarding their satisfaction. The patients were monitored for postoperative complications. Patient survey results and complications were logged in a database and analyzed. Results Single-digit trigger finger release was the most common procedure performed (n = 582), followed by mass excision (n = 158), multiple-digit trigger finger releases (n = 109), and carpal tunnel release (n = 41). There were 43 (4.3%) superficial skin infections, with the majority seen in single-digit trigger finger releases (n = 27). There were no deep wound infections. All infections were managed nonsurgically with oral antibiotics and local wound care. Ninety-nine percent of the patients rated the in-office procedure room experience as the same as or better than a dental visit, would recommend wide-awake anesthesia to a friend or family member, and would undergo the procedure again. Using “lean and green” hand packs saved our institution more than $65,000 and saved 18.4 tons of waste during this study period. Conclusions Surgical procedures performed with wide-awake local anesthesia with no tourniquet in an in-office procedure room can be performed safely with a low infection rate, are cost effective, and have high patient satisfaction. Clinical relevance Minor hand surgery done in an in-office procedure room is safe, is cost effective, and has high patient satisfaction.
Article
Objective: To explore the value of wide-awake local anesthesia no tourniquet (WALANT) technique in the treatment of acute Achilles tendon rupture. Methods: In a prospective randomized controlled trial, 48 patients with acute Achilles tendon rupture who met the criteria between March 2020 and October 2020 were randomly divided into two groups according to 1∶1 distribution, with 24 cases in each group. The study group used WALANT technique and the control group used epidural anesthesia with tourniquet for channel-assisted minimally invasive repair (CAMIR). There was no significant difference between the two groups in gender, age, injured side, cause of injury, distance from broken end of Achilles tendon to calcaneal tubercle, and time from injury to hospitalization ( P>0.05). The operating room use time (from patients entering the operating room to leaving the operating room), intraoperative blood loss, hospital stay, and the highest pain score [using Numerical Rating Scale (NRS)] during operation and at 1 day after operation were recorded and compared between the two groups. The tourniquet adverse reactions in the control group were recorded. The functional recovery was evaluated by the scoring method of American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) at 12 months after operation. Results: The operation was successfully completed in both groups. The operating room use time and hospital stay in the study group were significantly less than those in the control group ( P<0.05), but the difference in the intraoperative blood loss between the two groups was not significant ( t=0.429, P=0.670). There was no significant difference in the highest NRS score during operation between the two groups ( t=1.671, P=0.101); the highest NRS score in the study group at 1 day after operation was significantly lower than that in the control group ( t=-6.384, P<0.001). In the control group, 13 patients had different degrees of tourniquet adverse reactions, including tourniquet regional pain, local swelling, blisters, thigh numbness, and discomfort. The patients in both groups were followed up 12-18 months, with an average of 13.9 months. The motor function of all patients returned to normal at 12 months after operation. The difference in AOFAS scores between the two groups was not significant ( t=0.345, P=0.731). There was no complication such as sural nerve injury, local infection, and secondary rupture in both groups. Conclusion: The application of WALANT combined with CAMIR technique in the treatment of acute Achilles tendon rupture has good anesthetic and effectiveness, avoids the adverse reactions of tourniquet, and reasonably saves social medical resources.
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Article
Purpose: Carpal tunnel release (CTR) is a common surgical procedure, representing a financial burden to the health care system. The purpose of this study was to test whether the choice of CTR technique (open carpal tunnel release [OCTR] vs endoscopic carpal tunnel release [ECTR]), surgical setting (operating room vs procedure room [PR]), and anesthetic type (local, monitored anesthesia care [MAC], Bier block, general) affected costs or payments. Methods: Consecutive adult patients undergoing isolated unilateral CTR between July 2014, and October 2017, at a single academic medical center were identified. Patients undergoing ECTR converted to OCTR, revision surgery, or additional procedures were excluded. Using our institution's information technology value tools, we calculated total direct costs (TDCs), total combined payment (TCP), hospital payment, surgeon payment, and anesthesia payment for each surgical encounter. Cost data were normalized using each participant's surgical encounter cost divided by the average cost in the data set and compared across 8 groups (defined by surgery type, operation location, and anesthesia type). Results: Of 479 included patients, the mean age was 55.3 ± 16.1 years, and 68% were female. Payer mix included commercial (45%), Medicare (37%), Medicaid (13%), workers' compensation (2%), self-pay (1%), and other (3%) insurance types. The TDC and TCP both differed significantly between each CTR group, and OCTR in the PR under local anesthesia was the lowest. The OCTR/local/operating room, OCTR/MAC/operating room, and ECTR/operating room, were associated with 6.3-fold, 11.0-fold, and 12.4-16.6-fold greater TDC than OCTR/local/PR, respectively. Conclusions: Performing OCTR under local anesthetic in the PR setting significantly minimizes direct surgical encounter costs relative to other surgical methods (ECTR), anesthetic methods (Bier block, MAC, general), and surgical settings (operating room). Clinical relevance statement: This study identifies modifiable factors that may lead to cost reductions for CTR surgery.
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Wide awake local anesthesia no tourniquet (WALANT) hand surgery is a rapidly growing in popularity. WALANT has been used by hand surgeons when operating on bones, tendons, ligaments, nerve entrapments. We offer a case report of the first case in the literature describing WALANT technique when performing trapeziometacarpal joint arthroplasty with prosthesis implantation. We offer technical points on how to perform this procedure and the advantages that are associated with using WALANT for prosthesis arthroplasty.
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Background: In our experience, for all surgeries in the hand, the optimal epinephrine effect from local anesthesia-producing maximal vasoconstriction and visualization-is achieved by waiting significantly longer than the traditionally quoted 7 min from the time of injection. Methods: In this prospective comparative study, healthy patients undergoing unilateral carpal tunnel surgery waited either 7 min or roughly 30 min, between the time of injection of 1 % lidocaine with 1:100,000 epinephrine and the time of incision. A standardized incision was made through dermis and into the subcutaneous tissue followed by exactly 60 s of measuring the quantity of blood loss using sterile micropipettes. Results: There was a statistically significant reduction in the mean quantity of bleeding in the group that waited roughly 30 min after injection and before incision compared to the group that waited only 7 min (95 % confidence intervals of 0.06 + -0.03 ml/cm of incision, compared to 0.17 + -0.08 ml/cm, respectively) (P = 0.03). Conclusions: Waiting roughly 30 min after injection of local anesthesia with epinephrine as oppose to the traditionally taught 7 min, achieves an optimal epinephrine effect and vasoconstriction. In the hand, this will result in roughly a threefold reduction in bleeding-making wide awake local anesthesia without tourniquet (WALANT) possible. This knowledge has allowed our team to expand the hand procedures that we can offer using WALANT. The benefits of WALANT hand surgery include reduced cost and waste, improved patient safety, and the ability to perform active intraoperative movement examinations.
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This is a review article of the wide-awake approach to hand surgery. More than 95% of all hand surgery can now be performed without a tourniquet. Epinephrine is injected with lidocaine for hemostasis and anesthesia instead of a tourniquet and sedation. This is sedation-free surgery, much like a visit to a dental office. The myth of danger of using epinephrine in the finger is reviewed. The wide awake technique is greatly improving results in tendon repair, tenolysis, and tendon transfer. Here, we will explain its advantages.
Article
Background: Hand surgery under local anesthesia only has been utilized more frequently in recent years. The purpose of this study was to compare perioperative time and cost for carpal tunnel release (CTR) performed under local anesthesia (WALANT) only to those performed under intravenous sedation (MAC). Methods: A retrospective comparison of intra-operative (OR) surgical time and post-operative (PACU) time for consecutive CTR procedures performed under both MAC and WALANT was undertaken. All operations were performed by the same surgeon using the same mini-open surgical technique. A cost analysis was performed via standardized anesthesia billing based on base units, time, and conversion rates. Results: There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of total OR time, 28 minutes in the MAC group versus 26 minutes in the WALANT group. PACU times were significantly longer in the MAC group (84 minutes) compared to the WALANT group (7 minutes). Depending on conversion rates used, a total of $139-$432 was saved in each case done with WALANT by not using anesthesia services. In addition, a range of $1,320-$1,613 was saved for the full episode of care including anesthesia costs, OR time, and PACU time for each patient undergoing WALANT CTR. Conclusions: CTR surgery performed with the WALANT technique offers significant reduction in cost utilization of anesthesia and PACU resources.
Article
This article reviews historical background, essential practice principles, and the new emerging area of wide awake hand surgery. It outlines the reasons that wide awake, local anaesthesia, no tourniquet surgery has emerged so quickly in the last 10 years over the world. I explain the origin of the concepts and some of the challenges of getting the technique accepted; in particular, the debunking of the myth of epinephrine danger in the finger. I review the most recent developments in several operations in this rapidly changing field of the tourniquet-free approach. Finally, this review includes speculations on the future of this technique.
Article
The means for judging optimal tension during tendon transfers are approximate and not very quantifiable. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of quantitatively assessing muscular mechanical properties intraoperatively using ultrasound elastography (shear wave elastography [SWE]) during extensor indicis proprius (EIP) transfer. We report two cases of EIP transfer for post-traumatic rupture of the extensor pollicis longus muscle. Ultrasound acquisitions measured the elasticity modulus of the EIP muscle at different stages: rest, active extension, active extension against resistance, EIP section, distal passive traction of the tendon, after tendon transfer at rest and then during active extension. A preliminary analysis was conducted of the distribution of values for this modulus at the various transfer steps. Different shear wave velocity and elasticity modulus values were observed at the various transfer steps. The tension applied during the transfer seemed close to the resting tension if a traditional protocol were followed. The elasticity modulus varied by a factor of 37 between the active extension against resistance step (565.1 kPa) and after the tendon section (15.3 kPa). The elasticity modulus values were distributed in the same way for each patient. The therapeutic benefit of SWE elastography was studied for the first time in tendon transfers. Quantitative data on the elasticity modulus during this test may make it an effective means of improving intraoperative adjustments.
Article
Purpose: Wide-awake, local anesthesia, no tourniquet (WALANT) hand surgery was developed to improve access to hand surgery care while optimizing medical resources. Hand surgery in the clinic setting may result in substantial cost savings for the United States Military Health Care System (MHS) and provide a safe alternative to performing similar procedures in the operating room. Methods: A prospective cohort study was performed on the first 100 consecutive clinic-based WALANT hand surgery procedures performed at a military medical center from January 2014 to September 2015 by a single hand surgeon. Cost savings analysis was performed by using the Medical Expense and Performance Reporting System, the standard cost accounting system for the MHS, to compare procedures performed in the clinic versus the operating room during the study period. A study specific questionnaire was obtained for 66 procedures to evaluate the patient's experience. Results: For carpal tunnel release (n = 34) and A1 pulley release (n = 33), there were 85% and 70% cost savings by having the procedures performed in clinic under WALANT compared with the main operating room, respectively. During the study period, carpal tunnel release, A1 pulley release, and de Quervain release performed in the clinic instead of the operating room amounted to $393,100 in cost savings for the MHS. There were no adverse events during the WALANT procedure. Conclusions: A clinic-based WALANT hand surgery program at a military medical center results in considerable cost savings for the MHS. Type of study/level of evidence: Economic/Decision Analysis IV.
Article
Background: There has been recent interest in wide awake hand surgery, also referred to as "wide awake local anesthesia with no tourniquet" (WALANT) surgery. Using a model of single trigger finger release (TFR) surgery, a hypothesis was made that WALANT would result in decreased hospital time and cost than patients receiving sedation with monitored anesthetic care (MAC). Methods: Consecutive cases of single TFR surgery with MAC were compared with WALANT. All surgeries were performed in the same manner, at the same facility, and by the same surgeon. Total operating room (OR) time, surgical time, recovery time, and anesthesia costs were analyzed. Results: There were 78 patients: 31 MAC and 47 WALANT. The MAC group averaged 27.2 minutes of OR time; the WALANT group averaged 25.2 minutes. The MAC group surgical time was 10.2 minutes versus WALANT of 10.4 minutes. Post-operatively, the MAC group averaged 72.3 minutes in the recovery room compared with WALANT group of 30.2 minutes. Each case performed under MAC had a minimum of excess charges from anesthesia of approximately $105. Conclusions: Patients undergoing single TFR surgery under WALANT trended toward less time in the OR, had similar surgical times, and spent significantly less time in the recovery room, compared with MAC, thereby resulting in less indirect costs. Each MAC case also had minimum direct excess anesthesia charges of $105, which knowingly underestimates overall charges as it excludes material and fixed costs associated with the delivery of anesthesia. Avoiding sedation for high-volume procedures such as TFR may result in significant systemic savings to payers, and in the future with bundling and episode-based payments can become increasingly important to patients, facilities, and surgeons.
Article
Background: Ulnar nerve decompression at the elbow traditionally requires regional or general anesthesia. We wished to assess the feasibility of performing ulnar nerve decompression and transposition at the elbow under local anesthesia. Methods: We examined retrospectively the charts of 50 consecutive patients having undergone ulnar nerve entrapment surgery either under general or local anesthesia. Patients were asked to estimate pain on postoperative days 1 and 7 and satisfaction was assessed at 1 year. Results: On day 1, pain was comparable among all groups. On day 7, pain scores were twice as high when transposition was performed under general anesthesia when compared with local anesthesia. Patient satisfaction was slightly increased in the local anesthesia group. These patients were significantly more willing to repeat the surgery. Conclusion: Ulnar nerve decompression and transposition at the elbow can be performed under local anesthesia without added morbidity when compared with general anesthesia.
Article
The minimally invasive tumescent local anesthesia technique used in wide-awake hand surgery is having an impact in hand surgery practice. Patients spend less time and money and get to speak to their surgeon and receive education during the surgery itself. Improvements in operations such as flexor tendon repair have happened, because surgeons can see movement during the case and make adjustments before the skin is closed. Surgeons can perform more cases in the same amount of time with fewer personnel. The cost of the surgery is decreased, as all expenses surrounding the provision of sedation are removed.
Article
Background The purpose of this study was to provide prospective independently analyzed evidence on how patients feel about a carpal tunnel release (CTR) performed under local anesthesia only (no sedation or tourniquet) versus with local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, and a tourniquet. Methods This prospective cohort study compared 100 consecutive CTRs done with only lidocaine and epinephrine in Saint John, New Brunswick to 100 consecutive CTRs done with IV sedation in Davenport, Iowa. Patient perspectives on the anesthesia were captured in a blinded questionnaire 1 week postoperatively. Results For subsequent surgery, 93 % of wide awake patients would choose local anesthesia only and 93 % of sedated patients would choose sedation. Wide awake patients spent less time at the hospital (M = 2.6 h) than sedated patients (M = 4.0 h; p < .001). Preoperative blood work, electrocardiograms, and/or chest radiographs were done for 3 % of wide awake patients and 48 % of sedated patients (p < 0.001). Preoperative anxiety levels for wide awake patients were lower than for sedated patients (p = 0.007); postoperative anxiety was similar. There were no anesthesia complications in either group. Narcotics were used by 5 % of unsedated patients and 67 % of sedated patients (p < 0.001). Adequate pain control was reported by 89 % and 90 % of patients, respectively. Conclusions The majority of patients from both cohorts liked whichever method of anesthesia they received and would choose it again. However, sedated patients spent more time at the hospital, required more preoperative testing, and reported greater preoperative anxiety.
Article
Traditionally, surgeons were taught that local anesthesia containing epinephrine should not be injected into fingers. This idea has since been refuted in many basic and clinical scientific studies, and today, injection of lidocaine plus epinephrine is widely used for digital and hand anesthesia in Canada. The key advantages of the wide-awake technique include the creation of a bloodless field without the use of an arm tourniquet, which in turn reduces the need for conscious sedation. The use of local anesthesia permits active motion intraoperatively, which is particularly helpful in tenolysis, flexor tendon repairs, and setting the tension on tendon transfers. Additional benefits of wide-awake anesthesia include efficiencies and cost savings in outpatient surgical case flow due to the absence of conscious sedation.
Article
Our goals were to analyze cost and efficiency of performing carpal tunnel release (CTR) in the main operating room (OR) versus the ambulatory setting, and to document the venue of carpal tunnel surgery practices by plastic surgeons in Canada. A detailed analysis of the salaries of nonphysician personnel and materials involved in CTR performed in these settings was tabulated. Hospital statistical records were used to calculate our efficiency analysis. A survey of practicing plastic surgeons in Canada documented the venue of CTR performed by most. In a 3-h surgical block, we are able to perform nine CTRs in the ambulatory setting versus four in the main OR. The cost of CTR in the ambulatory setting is $36/case and $137/case in the main OR in the same hospital. Only 18% of Canadian respondents use the main OR exclusively for CTR, whereas 63% use it for some of their cases. The ambulatory setting is used exclusively by 37%, whereas 69% use it for greater than 95% of their cases. The majority of CTR cases (>95%) are done without an anesthesia provider by 73% of surgeons. Forty-three percent use epinephrine routinely with local anesthesia and 43% avoid the use of a tourniquet for at least some cases by using epinephrine for hemostasis. The use of the main OR for CTR is almost four times as expensive, and less than half as efficient as in an ambulatory setting. In spite of this, many surgeons in Canada continue to use the more expensive, less efficient venue of the main OR for CTR.
WALANT has gained wide acceptance over the last decades by surgeons and patients, Davidson and Cobb (2013) showed that patients experienced less anxiety pre and peri-operatively, while another North American study
  • Rhee
WALANT has gained wide acceptance over the last decades by surgeons and patients, Davidson and Cobb (2013) showed that patients experienced less anxiety pre and peri-operatively, while another North American study (Rhee et al., 2017) proved it to be cheaper and to have trends of less OR time.
Gong and Xing (2017) saw that surgeons quickly adopted the technique and that it led to an increase in workflow
  • In China
In China, Gong and Xing (2017) saw that surgeons quickly adopted the technique and that it led to an increase in workflow, efficiency and cost-savings.
Cost Implications of Varying the Surgical Technique, Surgical Setting, and Anesthesia Type for Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery
  • N H Kasmers
  • A P Presson
  • Y Xu
  • A Howenstein
  • A R Tyser
Kasmers NH, Presson AP, Xu Y, Howenstein A, Tyser AR. Cost Implications of Varying the Surgical Technique, Surgical Setting, and Anesthesia Type for Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery. J Hand Surg Am 2018;43;971-77.