What is Arthroscopic Surgery?
Arthroscopic surgery allows a doctor to see inside a joint, the different types named for the specific joint requiring examination, such as the wrist. Arthroscopic wrist surgery is used after a person has had an injury or is experiencing pain, swelling, or clicking, which communicates an internal wrist problem.
Arthroscopy uses a small fiber-optic instrument called an arthroscope. The arthroscope allows the surgeon to see inside the wrist joint to examine the eight small bones and connecting ligaments that make up the wrist joint without making large incisions.
Wrist Injuries Arthroscopy Treats
- Wrist fractures: to ensure small fragments of bone haven’t gotten into the wrist joint after a fracture and remove any that have.
- Chronic wrist pain: as an exploratory procedure, the doctor can use arthroscopy to find the cause of the wrist pain.
- Ganglion cysts: these types of cysts often grow from a stalk between two of the wrist bones. Using wrist arthroscopy procedures, the surgeon can remove the stalk and help prevent ganglion cysts from returning.
- Carpal tunnel release: caused by pressure on a nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel, which is formed by the wrist bones and thick tissue. The arthroscope can be used to reduce pressure and relieve symptoms if nonsurgical treatments haven’t been successful.
- Ligament/TFCC tears: the TFCC provides cushion within the wrist and ligaments are connective tissue that links or hinges bones. An injury can tear both these elements and arthroscopic wrist surgery can remedy it
The arthroscopic wrist procedure begins with the surgeon making a small incision through the skin in specific locations around the wrist joint, which are less than half an inch long. The pencil-sized arthroscope, which has a small lens, miniature camera, and lighting system, is then inserted into these incisions allowing the surgeon to see inside the joint. The camera projects three-dimensional images of the joint onto a monitor where the surgeon can watch as they move within the joint. If a problem is found, the doctor can use the probes, forceps, knives, and shavers at the end of the instrument to treat the issue.
Recover from the procedure is relatively short and does not require an overnight hospital stay. A bandage will be placed around your wrist to prevent motion and protect the area. Your surgeon will give instructions on how to care for the wood and will discuss how to limit swelling and stiffness by moving your fingers, as well as any restrictions while you heal.