Wrist Arthroscopy

Wrist Arthroscopy

keyhole surgery to the wrist has developed into a useful technique for investigation and treatment of wrist conditions. Being able to see the small bones of the wrist under direct vision means subtle problems can be identified and treated.

What is done at surgery?

This procedure is normally carried out as a day case.  The choice of anesthetic will be discussed with the anesthetist, but may be a nerve block where your arm is made  numb,with the addition of sedation if required or a general anesthetic, where you are asleep.   Two 4mm incisions are made in the back of the wrist and a tiny camera is passed into the wrist joint.  Most of the bones and soft tissues can be seen and many problems can be treated at the same time.

After your surgery you will have a large bulky dressing that can be reduced at 5 days.

What are the risks?

The risks of surgery are very low but the following have been reported:

  • Infection - responds quickly to antibiotics.
  • Pain - Usually mild (depending on procedure performed) and usually settles within 48 hours.
  • Stiffness - approximately 5% of patients develop some increased stiffness in their wrist. It is treated with physiotherapy and painkillers.
  • Swelling - Usually settles within 2 - 3 days.
  • Nerve injury - Localised numbness around the small incisions may occur.
  • Tendon Injury - As the camera and instruments used are passed around the tendons, they can be injured, but the risk is low (around 1 in 100).

What should I expect after surgery?

If the operation was only to have look around and make a diagnosis recovery will be quick; back to office work 5 days and manual work at 2 weeks.

Return to work after more significant surgery will vary depending on what else has been done.