Is Percutaneous Surgery Safe?

As modern medicine continues to advance in the twenty-first century, new methods for treating old conditions continue to arise. Trigger finger was first described by a French doctor named Alphonse Notta in 1850, and doctors have been successfully treating the condition ever since. It is best described as a problem with the fingers, where the patient feels a catching or locking sensation when they flex a finger.

One such clinic for this condition to look out for is Hand Surgery Associates, who specialises in Trigger finger surgery with over 40 years of combined experience. They have a wide range of services available, from emergency treatment to hand therapy. If you should need consultation for hand surgery, they are the place to look to.

The traditional method for treating this common hand disorder is by cutting the palm open to expose the tendon sheath at the base of the finger. Known as “open trigger finger surgery,” this procedure has a high success rate and is preferred by many doctors. However, a new surgical procedure has been developed that doesn’t require any incisions, and can ultimately relieve the patient of trigger finger symptoms for good.

Percutaneous trigger finger surgery only uses a needle to clear obstructions in the tendon sheath. Traditionally, doctors cut into the patient to observe their work, but the percutaneous method does not expose the tendon sheath at all. The doctor relies on their hands to gently guide the needle to the base of the finger and corrects the blockage to allow the tendon to move freely again. Many physicians have hailed the development of this surgical procedure as an achievement of modern science. But others are not quite so sure. For the more skeptical individuals in the world, one question remains. How safe is it?

A study from 2012 focused on this exact question, and it lead researchers to organise 48 individuals with trigger finger to test the effectiveness of both procedures. 36 females and 12 males with trigger finger were used for this observation, and the average age among them was 52. Of this group, 38 experienced trigger finger in their dominant hand, and nearly half of them had trigger finger of the thumb.

Medical researchers inserted a 14-gauge needle at the base of the patient?s affected digit, and the needle was pressed until it reached the tendon. To confirm the tendon was pierced, the researcher moved the needle to pull the tendon and observed the digit react. This was important to verify that they had found the tendon of interest, and allowed them to move forward to the next step. The needle was then used to wiggle the tendon loose, and this motion released pressure on the sheath. To establish that the tendon and sheath were both free, the doctor listened for grating sounds to stop before removing the needle. The method used in this study is what is practiced by physicians in the field.

To compare the success of their results, twenty of these patients gave their consent to receive open trigger finger surgery so the doctors could examine the results of the percutaneous method. Medical researchers were looking for any damage or cuts to the surrounding tissue and wanted to see if the tendon sheath was truly cleared. After their release, the patients of the study were followed for 30 months to determine if any complications arose after their surgery.

The results were surprising. Researchers found no complications during or after the percutaneous procedures, and every patient that participated was entirely relieved of their trigger finger symptoms. Patients that only participated in the first half of the study were able to resume their daily activities just three days after researchers freed their tendons, while the other 20 participants took seven days before their surgical wounds healed enough for them to return to their regular routines. The researchers concluded that percutaneous trigger finger surgery is a safe, efficient, convenient, and low-cost alternative to traditional open surgery.

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