Peripheral nerve surgery

Carpal tunnel decompression

A carpal tunnel decompression, otherwise known as a carpal tunnel release, can be done to treat carpal tunnel syndrome if nonsurgical treatments are not recommended or do not work.

What does a carpal tunnel decompression involve?

In a traditional carpal tunnel decompression, a neurosurgeon will begin by confirming the affected hand. They will make an incision at the wrist and cut through the flexor retinaculum, which protects the carpal bones and median nerve located at the wrist.

A neurosurgeon will divide the transverse carpal ligament to create space for the compressed median nerve, which passes through what’s known as the ‘carpal tunnel’ under the ligament.

The surgeon will finish by stitching the skin together. Then, a medical team will move the person to recovery before transferring them to their ward.

This surgery takes place when a person is either under a local or a general anaesthetic. It requires the person to fast from midnight before the surgery.

What are the risks of a carpal tunnel decompression?

Risks associated with this surgery include:

  • bleeding or blood clots after surgery
  • nerve damage
  • injury to surrounding blood vessels
  • infection
  • wrist pain
  • no improvement of your condition.


  1. Healthdirect, Carpal tunnel release