Wrist arthroscopy

Wrist Arthroscopy

What is it?

This procedure involves inserting a small telescope (arthroscope) with an in-built light source and a camera into the wrist joint via a very small incision (keyhole surgery).This allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint via a television monitor in theatre. Specially-designed instruments can then be inserted through other small incisions, providing the ability to treat a wide range of conditions.
The telescope used is smaller than that used for arthroscopy of the shoulder or knee, but still provides an excellent view of the inside of the wrist joint.

Who needs it?

The commonest conditions that require an arthroscopic assessment include an injury to the scapho-lunate ligament and cartilage (TFCC) injuries. The commonest procedures performed at arthroscopy are a debridement (cleaning up of the inside of the joint) and a TFCC repair.

Is a wrist arthroscopy painful?

The procedure is performed under either a general anaesthetic or regional nerve block (where the patient is awake but the arm is numbed with local anaesthetic).

The (3 or 4) small incisions are closed with steristrips, and a supportive dressing is applied.

Local anaesthetic is injected into the wrist at the end of the operation which means that there should be little pain for the first few hours. Once this wears off, however, there may be some discomfort for the first few days. Simple painkillers may be required to control this.

How long does it take to recover from wrist arthroscopy?

The dressings will be removed at 10-14 days and you may then be referred to the Hand Therapist to commence an exercise programme. You may not be able to drive for at least 2 weeks following surgery.

How much you are allowed to do will be determined by how quickly the wrist recovers from the surgery, and what the underlying problem was, and how successfully this has been treated. Commonly, it will take between 6-12 weeks to fully recover.

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