Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat problems inside a joint. Arthroscopy utilises a small fibre optic instrument called an arthroscope that enables the surgeon to see inside the joint without making large incisions into the muscle and tissue.The wrist is a complex joint with eight small bones and many connecting ligaments. Arthroscopic surgery can be used to diagnose and treat a number of conditions of the wrist, including chronic wrist pain, wrist fractures, ganglion cysts, and ligament tears.
The surgeon makes small incisions through the skin in specific locations around a joint. These incisions are less than half a centimetre long. The arthroscope is inserted through these incisions. A three dimensional image of the joint will be projected through the camera and onto a television monitor which the surgeon will be able to observe as they move the instrument within the joint.
After The Operation
You will find that there is a bulky dressing or plaster splint applied to your wrist. Keep the dressings clean and dry and to reduce swelling, keep the hand elevated. It is important to also move your fingers and thumb after the operation to stop them from stiffening.
You will have a follow-up appointment 10-14 days after the surgery where stitches, if used are removed and the wound is checked. Your surgeon may go through the findings with you, if not disclosed prior. You may get back to driving after the stitches are out and you feel comfortable doing so and can consider going back to work within a week although people doing heavy manual jobs may need up to 3-4 weeks off. However, this may vary depending on the procedure in which case the surgeon will advise you otherwise.
Risks Of Surgery
Generally, this procedure is considered to be very effective and low risk. However some people may have problems. The commonest of these is tenderness of the scars, which is usually temporary and is helped by massage. Other problems are swelling and stiffness of the hand, which if severe is called reflex sympathetic dystrophy and is rare. Infection is also rare. You may experience numbness in parts of the hand as a result of nerve damage which usually settles with time. Tendon damage may also occur but is rare.