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What are the Benefits of Wide-Awake Hand Surgery?



Vail-Summit Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery has a specialized team of hand doctors to treat patients with an injury or condition that affects the hand joint. Carpal tunnel release and trigger finger surgery are some of the frequent treatments performed by our team. In some instances, these procedures are performed as wide-awake hand surgery. Patients often ask, “What are the benefits of wide-awake hand surgery?” The VSON hand specialists want patients to know all the benefits of awake hand surgery. Our wide-awake hand surgery team includes:


What is Wide-Awake Hand Surgery?


Frequently used for carpal tunnel release and trigger finger surgery, wide-awake hand surgery is completed without the need for general anesthesia or sedation. Officially referred to as Wide Awake Local Anesthesia, No Tourniquet (WALANT), the procedure effectively uses local anesthesia – a combination of lidocaine and epinephrine – to ensure patient comfort during surgery. Once numbness is complete, the surgery proceeds normally.


Benefits of Wide-Awake Hand Surgery

General benefits of wide awake hand surgery include:

  • No fasting or lab work

  • Eliminate general anesthesia concerns, limitations, side effects

  • Pain-free injection technique, no IV

  • Reduced swelling and bruising

  • Postoperative pain management with fewer narcotics

  • Quick return to daily life


A critical benefit of wide-awake hand surgery is the ability of the surgeon to utilize the awake patient’s input as needed. This is especially beneficial in a carpal tunnel release, trigger finger procedure, or other tendon repairs. The tendon can be tested during the procedure, as the patient can actively participate. This helps determine postoperative therapy and ensures the surgeon achieves the optimal outcome.


Wide-Awake Hand Surgery Conditions and Treatments

Most commonly, wide-awake hand surgery is used to treat the two following hand conditions:

  1. Carpal Tunnel Release: VSON hand surgery specialists complete this wide-awake procedure either with an endoscope camera or as an open release. The surgeon will make an incision at the wrist or palm. Precision tools will be used to treat the tendon. Once complete, the surgeon will involve the patient, ensuring optimal results. The incision will then be closed.

  2. Trigger Finger Surgery: This wide-awake surgery starts with a small incision in the palm. The surgeon will cut the affected tendon sheath, releasing it and restoring ease of movement. The surgeon will involve the patient to test the results, and the incision is closed.


Along with carpal tunnel release and trigger finger surgery, wide-awake hand surgery is available for several additional hand conditions, including:

  • Fracture

  • Arthritis

  • Nerve compression

  • Tendon and ligament conditions

Am I a Candidate for Wide-Awake Hand Surgery?


Dr. Dorf and Dr. Joseph, our hand specialists, have the expertise for awake hand surgery. They are dedicated to working with their patients to recommend a treatment plan for their hand conditions that reduces pain, restores function, and gets them back to the activities they love. Request a consultation today and find out if wide-awake hand surgery is right for you!



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