Open Access Research article

Incidence rates of in-hospital carpal tunnel syndrome in the general population and possible associations with marital status

Stefano Mattioli111*, Alberto Baldasseroni2, Stefania Curti1, Robin MT Cooke1, Antonella Bena3, Giovanna de Giacomi4, Marco dell'Omo5, Pirous Fateh-Moghadam6, Carla Melani7, Marco Biocca8, Eva Buiatti9, Giuseppe Campo10, Francesca Zanardi1 and Francesco S Violante1

Author Affiliations

1 Occupational Medicine Unit, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, dell'Invecchiamento e Malattie Nefrologiche, University of Bologna, Italy

2 Tuscany Regional Centre for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (CeRIMP), Florence, Italy

3 Occupational Epidemiology Unit, Piedmont Region, Grugliasco, Turin, Italy

4 National Agency for Regional Health Services, Rome, Italy (during data collection, Marche Regional Health Care Agency, Ancona, Italy)

5 Institute of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy

6 Epidemiology Unit, Azienda Provinciale per i Servizi Sanitari, Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Italy

7 Epidemiology Unit, Assessorato alla Sanità e Politiche Sociali, Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Italy

8 Emilia Romagna Regional Health Care Agency, Bologna, Italy

9 Tuscany Regional Health Care Agency, Florence, Italy

10 Dipartimento Processi Organizzativi, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Prevention (ISPESL), Rome, Italy

11 Stefano Mattioli, Unità Operativa di Medicina del Lavoro, Policlinico Sant'Orsola-Malpighi, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, dell'Invecchiamento e Malattie Nefrologiche, Università di Bologna, via Pelagio Palagi 9, I-40138 Bologna, Italy

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:374  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-374

Published: 28 October 2008



Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a socially relevant condition associated with biomechanical risk factors. We evaluated age-sex-specific incidence rates of in-hospital cases of CTS in central/northern Italy and explored relations with marital status.


Seven regions were considered (overall population, 14.9 million) over 3–6-year periods between 1997 and 2002 (when out-of-hospital CTS surgery was extremely rare). Incidence rates of in-hospital cases of CTS were estimated based on 1) codified demographic, diagnostic and intervention data in obligatory discharge records from all Italian public/private hospitals, archived (according to residence) on regional databases; 2) demographic general population data for each region. We compared (using the χscore test) age-sex-specific rates between married, unmarried, divorced and widowed subsets of the general population. We calculated standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for married/unmarried men and women.


Age-standardized incidence rates (per 100,000 person-years) of in-hospital cases of CTS were 166 in women and 44 in men (106 overall). Married subjects of both sexes showed higher age-specific rates with respect to unmarried men/women. SIRs were calculated comparing married vs unmarried rates of both sexes: 1.59 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.57–1.60) in women, and 1.42 (95% CI, 1.40–1.45) in men. As compared with married women/men, widows/widowers both showed 2–3-fold higher incidence peaks during the fourth decade of life (beyond 50 years of age, widowed subjects showed similar trends to unmarried counterparts).


This large population-based study illustrates distinct age-related trends in men and women, and also raises the question whether marital status could be associated with CTS in the general population.