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Wrist Arthroscopy

What is a wrist arthroscopy?
 
Arthroscopy of the wrist involves insertion of a small telescope into the wrist through 2 or more small incisions (approx 1cm long) on the back of the wrist. The view from the telescope is projected onto a television screen. You will usually have a full general anaesthetic for the operation.
 
Why do I need the operation?
 
Your surgeon will explain the reasons for doing your operation, but usually it is for diagnosis. All jewellery, nail varnish and false nails must be removed from the hand that is to be operated upon. If the investigation reveals a simple problem it may be treated at the same
time but more complex problems, such as ligament repairs are not usually undertaken unless this has been discussed with you beforehand.
 
At the end of the operation, the tourniquet is released and may feel a warm sensation in your arm as well as pins and needles. This may last an hour or two. A padded bandage will be applied to your wrist and hand.
 
What happens after the operation?
 
You will usually be allowed home on the same day that you have the operation. If the wrist becomes sore, simple painkillers such as paracetamol, cocodamol etc. should be sufficient.
 
For how long will I be unable to use my hand/wrist?
 
1. Keep the bandage clean and dry for 3 days, after which it can be removed by yourself or a District / Practice Nurse. There may be a small amount of bleeding on the dressing, this is normal. After this, the wound needs a simple dry dressing to protect it.  
 
2. In most cases gentle use of the wrist can be commenced once comfortable, and more normal movements should return within 1 to 2 weeks of the operation.  
 
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3. If you are in a physical job you may require 2 weeks off work. Otherwise you can return back to work after 2 to 3 days.
 
4. Do not drive and avoid excessive use of the hand for at least 3 days.
 
This may differ if you have had more extensive surgery. Your surgeon will discuss this with you.
 
Will I need any further treatment?
 
Your wrist may be stiff and sore for a few days but you will be able to use it. Some swelling of the wrist is common for 1 to 2 weeks. Any further treatment plans depend on the operative findings.
 
Can the operation do me any harm?
 
Anaesthetic: rarely problems can occur related to your general health. The potential problems should be picked up at the pre-assessment clinic. Your anaesthetist will be able to discus this with you further.
 
Tendon damage: the tendons running to the fingers can be damaged or cut, but this is very rare (1%).
 
Infection: infection can occur after any operation, but it is rare and can be treated with antibiotics.
 
Nerve damage: nerves within the region can be damaged during surgery. There may be some temporary numbness in the hand or fingers and rarely it can be permanent.

The Manchester Orthopaedic Group has three hand and wrist surgeons. Steve Royle , Jochen Fischer and Mohammed Waseem are established consultants. They are able to offer a range of treatments for various conditions from carpal tunnel syndrome to wrist arthritis.

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