Direct Cost Comparison of Open Carpal Tunnel Release in Different Venues

Logan W. Carr, Brad Morrow, Brett Michelotti, Randy M. Hauck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: The increased efficiency and cost savings have led many surgeons to move their practice away from the traditional operating room (OR) or outpatient surgery center (OSC) and into the clinic setting. With the cost of health care continuing to rise, the venue with the lowest cost should be utilized. We performed a direct cost analysis of a single surgeon performing an open carpal tunnel release in the OR, OSC, and clinic. Methods: Four treatment groups were prospectively studied: the hospital OR with monitored anesthesia care (OR-MAC), OSC with MAC (OSC-MAC), OSC with local anesthesia (OSC-local), and clinic with local anesthesia (clinic). To determine direct costs, a detailed inventory was recorded including the weight and disposal of medical waste. Indirect costs were not included. Results: Five cases in each treatment group were prospectively recorded. Average direct costs were OR ($213.75), OSC-MAC ($102.79), OSC-local ($55.66), and clinic ($31.71). The average weight of surgical waste, in descending order, was the OR (4.78 kg), OSC-MAC (2.78 kg), OSC-local (2.6 kg), and the clinic (0.65 kg). Using analysis of variance, the clinic’s direct costs and surgical waste were significantly less than any other setting (P <.005). Conclusions: The direct costs of an open carpal tunnel release were nearly 2 times more expensive in the OSC compared with the clinic and almost 7 times more expensive in the OR. Open carpal tunnel release is more cost-effective and generates less medical waste when performed in the clinic versus all other surgical venues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-465
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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