Wrist Arthroscopy in London

A wrist arthroscopy is a minimally invasive (keyhole) surgical procedure that allows an orthopaedic surgeon to see inside the wrist joint and examine, diagnose and treat many conditions within the wrist joint. It is an invaluable tool in diagnosis when other diagnostic measures such as MRI, x-rays and other types of scans have failed to identify the cause of the problem.


Introducing The Service

The wrist joint (also known as the radiocarpal joint) is a small, yet complex joint bridging the forearm and the hand. Formed of bones, cartilage, and ligaments, the wrist is an ellipsoidal type synovial joint, meaning it has a great range of motion - and flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction can all occur at the joint. However, this can also make it more prone to injury.

Arthroscopic surgery utilises a specially designed instrument, an arthroscope, to diagnose and treat many conditions in the wrist without heavily disrupting the soft tissues around it, allowing a faster recovery time and minimal scarring. An arthroscope transmits light through fibre optics and a tiny camera on the end relays images to a screen so your surgeon can examine or treat the inside of the joint.

Our experts have extensive experience in performing wrist arthroscopy procedures, and always discuss your options with you to ensure you receive the best individualised treatment plan for your wrist pain and the best possible outcome from your care. The wrist arthroscopies our hand and wrist Specialists perform at Schoen Clinic London can be either diagnostic or surgical.



Diagnostic Wrist Arthroscopy

Your Consultant may recommend a diagnostic arthroscopy of the wrist if the cause of your wrist pain is unclear or continues to affect your everyday activities despite conservative treatment, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication or injections.

Before undertaking an arthroscopic wrist procedure, you Specialist Consultant will:

  • Discuss your medical history to gather information about your previous medical conditions and concerns.
  • Carry out a thorough physical examination of your wrist.
  • Perform range of motion tests on the wrist by moving your hand to locate the pain.
  • Request diagnostic imaging of the hand and wrist. These might include X-rays, MRI scans or an arthrogram (where the joint is injected with a dye solution and an X-ray is taken).

In a diagnostic wrist arthroscopy the hand an arm are numbed with local anaesthetic so you will be awake during the short procedure. Your Consultant will make several tiny incisions on the back of your wrist and insert the arthroscope and specially designed instruments. This allows them to observe the inside of the wrist through the camera on the end of the arthroscope.

Once they have finished examining inside the wrist the incisions are closed and dressings are applied. Your Consultant can use a diagnostic wrist arthroscopy to diagnose conditions such as arthritis, cartilage damage or ligament injuries.

Wrist Arthroscopy: Surgical Treatment For Wrist Pain

The majority of wrist arthroscopies are performed under a local anaesthetic, so you will be awake and alert during the procedure, but you won’t feel any pain in the wrist while it is being treated. You’ll also have a carefully managed pain management plan to ensure your comfort throughout your stay with us and your Consultant Anaesthetist will discuss this with you.

The procedure normally takes about 30 minutes, longer depending on the procedures required for individual conditions. Between 3 to 6 small incisions will be made in your wrist and the arthroscope is inserted. Wrist conditions regularly treated with an arthroscopy are:

  • Ganglion cysts
  • Wrist fractures
  • Chronic wrist pain
  • Carpal tunnel release
  • Ligament tears

After examining your wrist and performing any necessary procedures, your Consultant will remove the camera and any instruments before closing the wound with stitches and surgical strips. The wound is then covered with an absorbent dressing.

Recovery & Rehabilitation: Wrist Arthroscopy

After your wrist arthroscopy, you’ll be taken to the recovery room where our expert recovery nurses will monitor you until you’re ready to return to your private room on the ward. You’ll also receive medication for pain relief before being discharged. At Schoen Clinic London, this procedure is performed as a day case, so you’ll be able to go home on the same day but will need someone to take you home as you won’t be able to drive.

Try to elevate the wrist regularly for the first 3 days after surgery to minimise swelling. You will have limited use of your hand and there may be some bruising, this is normal and nothing to worry about. Your wrist will be covered in a bulky bandage to support and protect it and must be kept clean and dry. This is normally removed 14 days after surgery.

You can expect to resume normal activities 3 weeks after surgery but you should avoid repetitive activities such as typing or playing a musical instrument or movements that involve gripping.

Possible Complications

Complications from wrist arthroscopy are rare. However, there are inherent risks associated with every procedure. Infection, nerve damage, severe edoema, bleeding, scarring, and tendon tearing are all possibilities. Your Consultant will discuss the risks of wrist arthroscopy prior to surgery.

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