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Has the Use of Electrodiagnostic Studies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Changed After the 2016 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Clinical Practice Guideline?

Published:November 29, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2022.09.019

      Purpose

      A 2016 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) clinical practice guideline (CPG) de-emphasized the need for electrodiagnostic studies (EDS) for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). We tested the hypothesis that use of EDS decreased after the AAOS CPG.

      Methods

      Using a national administrative claims database, we measured the proportion of patients with a diagnosis of CTS who underwent EDS within 1 year after diagnosis between 2011 and 2019. Using an interrupted time series design, we defined 2 time periods (pre-CPG and post-CPG) and compared EDS usage between the periods using segmented regression analysis. We conducted a subgroup analysis of preoperative EDS usage in patients who underwent carpal tunnel release.

      Results

      Of 2,081,829 patients with CTS, 315,449 (15.2%) underwent EDS within 1 year after diagnosis. The segmented regression analysis showed a decrease in the level of EDS usage after publication of the AAOS CPG (−11.50 per 1,000 patients [95% CI, −1.47 to −0.95 per 1,000 patients]); however, the rate of EDS usage increased in the post-CPG period (+1.75 per 1,000 patients per quarter [95% CI, 0.97–2.54 per 1,000 patients per quarter]). Of 473,753 eligible patients who underwent carpal tunnel release, 139,186 (29.4%) underwent EDS within 6 months before surgery. After publication of the AAOS CPG, preoperative EDS usage decreased by −23.57 per 1,000 patients (95% CI, −37.72 to −9.42 per 1,000 patients). However, these decreasing trends in EDS usage predated the 2016 AAOS CPG.

      Conclusions

      The overall and preoperative EDS usage for CTS has been decreasing since at least 2014, predating the 2016 AAOS CPG, reflecting the rapid implementation of evidence into practice. However, EDS usage has increased in the post-CPG period, and a considerable proportion of patients who underwent carpal tunnel release still received EDS.

      Clinical relevance

      Given its high costs and disputed value, routine EDS usage should be considered for further deimplementation initiatives.

      Key words

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