Cost Drivers in Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery: An Analysis of 8,717 Patients in New York State

Published:December 27, 2021DOI:


      The annual high volume of carpal tunnel releases (CTRs) has a large financial impact on the health care system. Validating the cost drivers related to CTR in a large, diverse patient population may aid in developing cost reduction strategies to benefit health care systems.


      Adult patients with carpal tunnel syndrome who underwent CTR were identified in the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System database from 2016 to 2017. The Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System is a comprehensive all-payer database that collects all inpatient and outpatient preadjudicated claims in New York. A multivariable mixed model regression with random effects was performed for the facility to assess the variables that contributed significantly to the total charge. The variables included were patient age, sex, anesthesia method, whether the surgery took place in an ambulatory surgery center or a hospital outpatient department, operation time in minutes, primary insurance type, race, ethnicity, Charlson Comorbidity Index, and categories for billed procedure codes.


      During the period of 2016 to 2017, 8,717 claims were included, with a mean charge per claim of $4,865. General anesthesia was associated with higher charges than local anesthesia. A procedure at a hospital outpatient department was associated with an approximately 48.2% increase in the total charge compared with that at an ambulatory surgery center. A 1-minute increase in the operation time was associated with a 0.3% increase in the total charge. Claims with antiemetics, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, intravenous fluids, narcotic agents, or preoperative antibiotics were associated with higher total charges than claims that did not bill for these. Compared with endoscopic procedures, open procedures had a 44.3% decrease in the total charges.


      This comprehensive multivariable model has validated that general anesthesia, hospital-based surgery, the use of antibiotics and opioids, longer operative times, and endoscopic CTR significantly increased the cost of surgery.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Economic and decision analyses II.

      Key words

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