Hand arthroscopy surgery is a less invasive, more commonly used medical procedure used for treatment of wrist injuries. It involves uses a small camera (about the size of a pencil) to examine the joints of the wrist, diagnose the issue, and then remove or repair the damaged tissues as needed.
Unlike a full joint operation, hand arthroscopy is performed through a small incision into the joint. During this procedure, the orthopedic surgeon can fix several wrist joint-related problems, such as torn tissue or ligaments, and bone wear. It is almost always performed on an outpatient basis, and anesthesia is usually local, depending on the exact procedure being performed.
Who is a candidate?
Patients with joint pain, or limited wrist function, may be candidates for hand arthroscopy if they have exhausted nonsurgical treatment options.
Common reasons for hand arthroscopy include:
- Chronic wrist pain
- Wrist fractures
- Ganglion cysts
- Ligament tears
- Carpal tunnel release
Who is not a candidate?
Candidates who require open surgery or whose symptoms can be relieved by nonsurgical treatment are not candidates for hand arthroscopy.
Like other surgeries, hand arthroscopy requires a complete physical examination with your primary care provider before surgery. You should inform your orthopedic surgeon of any medications or supplements you take, and comply with certain general surgery procedures such as preoperative blood testing and possible cessation of smoking or use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs one week prior.
You will be able to recover from hand arthroscopy faster than you would for traditional open-incision joint surgery. Immediately after your procedure, your doctor will prescribe pain relief medication and possibly, a blood thinner (to lessen the risk of blood clots). In the first few days after surgery, keep your wrist elevated and apply ice to relieve swelling and prevent further inflammation. Ensure your incisions are kept clean and dry, and follow your surgeon’s instructions in regards to bathing, changing the dressing, and follow-up visits.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Other known complications include bleeding, excessive swelling, and nerve and blood vessel injury.
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