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Wrist Arthroscopy

Wrist Arthroscopy is performed when wrist pain persists despite conservative treatment options.

The small cameras and instruments in arthroscopy today make it the ideal procedure for addressing conditions within the wrist. This complex joint comprised of eight small bones, many connecting ligaments and a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) in a small, confined space is seen with greater clarity through the arthroscope projection amplified on a large screen monitor - allowing a more accurate diagnosis.

The Procedure
Before the arthroscopy is performed, a physical examination of the hand and wrist is conducted. Dr. Collins then observes, through a series of exercises, the manner in which the hand moves when pain is experienced. He may order one or more imaging studies such as an X-ray, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or an arthrogram, in order to assess the area of pain.

Generally, a regional anesthesia is used during this type of arthroscopic procedure. Other sedative medication may be used to relax patients. Two or more small incisions, or portals, are made to the back of the wrist and the arthroscope and instruments are inserted.

For Wrist Fractures, small bone fragments and fracture debris is removed, and the bone pieces are realigned and stabilized with a fixation device such as pins, screws, or wires.

For Ganglion Cysts, a stalk found between two of the wrist bones and on which these cysts commonly grow, is arthroscopically removed. This procedure may also be called an arthrosocopic ganglionectomy.

For Chronic Wrist Pain, arthroscopy is used to first identify the cause of pain or inflammation and then address possible damage by removing torn cartilage, loose bony bodies or inflamed synovium tissue.

For Ligament Damage such as Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex (TFCC) tears and the torn edges of damaged ligament or cartilage - often occurring from breaking a fall on an outstretched hand - arthroscopy is used to trim or remove frayed edges and repair damage.

Recovery and Rehabilitation
Following surgery, patients are instructed to keep their wrist elevated for the first couple of days and to keep clean, dry bandages on the surgical area. Swelling is reduced with cold compressions. And analgesic medications may be prescribed to help minimize postoperative pain.

Range of motion exercises generally begin the day following the arthroscopic procedure, but may vary on the patient and condition of the wrist following surgery.