Two Patients, One Revolutionary Surgical Procedure
WALANT Is the Wave of the Future
Michele Hatch needed her hands. The 48-year-old Point Pleasant, NJ resident manages a large retail outlet, which entails consistently lifting boxes that weigh up to 50 pounds. But her job left her with severe carpal tunnel syndrome. “The pain was so bad it woke me up at night,” she explains. Hatch tried remedies, such as medication and a splint, but nothing helped. She was reluctant to have surgery due to a past experience with anesthesia. After living in agony for eight months, she was still emotionally wary of a surgical solution.
Meanwhile, Geraldine Palma took a fall last Thanksgiving weekend, fracturing her wrist in three places. The injury led to severe carpal tunnel syndrome. “I can’t tell you how excruciating the pain was,” says the 76-year-old Middletown, NJ resident, who compared the intensity of that pain to childbirth. With a high pain threshold having made it through breast cancer (including chemo and radiation) she couldn’t find any relief from a splint or physical therapy.
Fortunately, both of these patients made their way to University Orthopaedic Associates, where their cases were successfully resolved with “WALANT,” which stands for Wide Awake Local Anesthesia No Tourniquet. This innovative surgical technique was used with both Hatch and Palma by Dr. Christopher Doumas, a board certified hand and upper extremity specialist.
According to Dr. Doumas, WALANT is “the wave of the future.” A solution for the masses, he elaborates, “In the right patient, ninety percent of hand surgery can be done this way.”
“The main benefits of the procedure are that it minimizes the discomfort of the patient, both pre- and post-operatively. Pre-operative testing, fasting, the risks of sedation—the goal is to remove all these factors,” says Dr. Doumas. “Michele Hatch was very apprehensive of standard surgery and Geraldine Palma had family cardiac issues, so the fact neither had to undergo sedation was a real plus.”
Both women confirmed that they were delighted with the new alternative and it went hand-in-hand with the extraordinary care they received from Dr. Doumas.
Relates Hatch, who on May 3, 2015 had a carpal tunnel release and trigger thumb release on her right hand with WALANT, “Dr. Doumas explained everything he did. He told me when he was going to cut. He asked me to move my hand – they were pretty amazed I was able to do that. ” By her two-week follow up, there was barely any bruising or swelling, and Hatch was basically pain free. Able to return to her job, she says of her hand, “It feels great!” (She also notes that the people at her workplace who’ve had the traditional carpal tunnel surgery are often out for six weeks.)
Explains Geraldine Palma, who had surgery on May 4, 2016, “It wasn’t difficult to decide to do it because I did not want to lose the use of my left hand. I had confidence in Dr. Doumas. He had explained all about the surgery. I was game for it. I trusted him thoroughly. We were all telling each other jokes during the operation. We actually had a good time!”
Michele Hatch concurs. “Dr. Doumas is a professional, caring and thorough doctor. I can’t say enough about how great he was. I felt like a rock star going into surgery. It was a very good experience. How they make you feel going into the surgery is how you feel coming out.” Hatch will eventually need her other hand operated on for carpal tunnel syndrome, and has no hesitation how she will proceed. “In my mind, this is the best way to go. I would do it again,” she says.
In fact, both women testified that the WALANT surgery was so advantageous, they had no qualms about a second surgery if needed, confirming the results of a 2013 WALANT study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery (European Volume). The study reports that 86 percent of patients who have undergone WALANT would do so again. Moreover, 90 percent of WALANT patients would recommend this procedure to a friend.*