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The Average Cost of Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery

By Christian Walker, Ph.D.

As with most surgical procedures, the cost of carpal tunnel release surgery varies widely. The cost of open release surgery is generally less expensive–but more traumatic–than endoscopic release surgery. The cost of each procedure depends primarily on the type of hospital, insurance carrier and geographical location. The costs can be broken down into physician services, hospital fees and anesthesia services.

Cost Breakdown

In the United States, the costs for carpal tunnel release surgery will vary from region to region as well as whether you have the surgery in a hospital or an ambulatory center. Also, each health insurance carrier negotiates its own fees with particular providers, so if you have health insurance you may find that you will pay nothing or you may be required to bear most of the cost yourself. In addition, if there are complications during or after surgery, the fees can increase dramatically. Most costs for a routine operation are generally broken down into physician services, facility fees and anesthesia services. These usually are billed to you separately.

Ambulatory Center Costs

The average physician services in an ambulatory center are $746, which includes routine postoperative care. The ambulatory center costs are $1,291 on an outpatient basis. An overnight stay costs extra. The anesthesia services are $408 for an average 45-minute surgery. The price may vary according to the duration of the surgery. This total is $2,445.

Hospital Costs

The average physician services in a hospital are $746, which includes routine postoperative care. The hospital costs are $4,200, and this includes a two-day stay. Each day is approximately $1,800. The anesthesia services are $408 calculated for a routine 45-minute procedure. The total is $5,354. This total cost is in contrast to the Medicare database estimate, where the total average cost of the surgery is $8,185.

Geography

Comparing the United States with other countries, carpal tunnel release surgery is almost always more expensive. Sometimes, as with India, the differences can be several-fold. Obviously, the quality of the surgical team and their experience with modern techniques must be considered in any country.

Other Considerations

Carpal tunnel release surgery alone is not the full treatment for relieving carpal tunnel syndrome. Rehabilitation and therapy are almost always required after surgery. Depending on how quickly the patient recovers, rehabilitation and therapy can vary from a couple weeks to many months. It is not unusual for rehabilitation and therapy to represent the majority of the final cost of surgically treating carpal tunnel syndrome. In the end, an individual case, including surgery, rehabilitation and therapy, and other work-related expenses can cost up to $29,000.

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