What is wrist arthroscopy?
A surgical procedure that uses a small fiber optic camera (arthroscope) to see inside the wrist joint without making large incisions into the muscles. The wrist is a complex joint with eight small bones and many connecting ligaments. Injury or overuse to any of these parts can lead to pain. Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat the cause of pain at the same time. It is minimally invasive, and patients generally experience fewer problems and a more rapid recovery than with open surgery
What conditions is it used for?
- Wrist fractures. Small pieces of bone may stay in the joint after a bone breaks. Wrist arthroscopy can remove these, align the broken pieces by using pins, wires, or screws.
- Ligament tears. Ligaments are fibrous bands that connect bones. They provide stability and support to the joints.
- TFCC tears. The TFCC acts like cushion on the small finger side of the wrist. Injury to this can cause pain with movement or a clicking sensation.
What will happen before the procedure?
- X-Rays: to look at the space between the bones in the joints. In arthritic joints, there is little to no spacing.
- MRI: to see if the ligaments, tendons, or muscles are damaged.
- Conservative treatment: some people elect to try a wrist brace, anti-inflammatory medicine, steroid injections, and occupational therapy before arthroscopy.
What do I need to know about the procedure?
- You will be contacted within 2 weeks of your pre-op appointment for pricing and scheduling.
- The surgery will last less than 60 minutes and you will go home the same day.
- Your surgeon will make small incisions in the skin in specific locations around the wrist. The arthroscope is inserted through these incisions, and has a small camera that projects images onto a monitor. Instruments at the end of the arthroscope are used to correct any problems.
- You will have a splint for 2 weeks that will keep your hand from moving. This will be converted into a cast for at least another 2 weeks if there is a ligament repair.
- You will not be able to lift with the affected hand for 2 weeks. If there is a ligament repair, you will not be able to lift for at least 8 weeks.
- At your 2 week follow up visit, the sutures and bandage will be removed, and you will begin scar massage.
- Complications are unusual, but may include infection, nerve injuries, excessive swelling or bleeding, scarring or tendon tearing. An experienced surgeon, particularly one who specializes in treating the hand, can reduce the likelihood of complications.