The wrist is a complex joint that connects the forearm to the hand, and allows it to move. It consists of 8 small bones called carpals that articulate with two long bones of the forearm (radius and ulna). The joint is supported by ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and muscles that help in movement.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedure that allows your surgeon to view and perform surgeries through small incisions. Some of the common problems of the wrist that can be treated by arthroscopy include carpal tunnel syndrome (nerves that run across the wrist are compressed), arthritis, fractures, dislocations, inflamed tendons and ligaments, ganglion cysts and chronic wrist pain.
The procedure helps your surgeon to obtain a clear view of the wrist joint on a large screen with the help of a camera attached to the end of a narrow lighted tube called an arthroscope. Your surgeon makes two or more small incisions at your wrist joint. Through one of the incisions, the arthroscope is inserted. This helps in diagnosing various conditions or guiding a surgical procedure. Through the other incisions, surgical instruments are inserted to treat the problem. A sterile solution is injected into the wrist to expand the joint and allow a clear view and sufficient room to perform the procedure. After the surgery, the stitches are closed and a dressing is applied.
Your surgeon will place a cast or a splint to immobilize wrist until it has healed completely. The operated wrist should be kept elevated to prevent excessive swelling and pain. Ice (wrapped over a cloth) can be applied over the operated area to help reduce swelling. Pain relieving medications will be prescribed. Always remember to keep the operated area clean and dry to prevent infection. Exercises are performed to strengthen the wrist and improve range of motion.
When compared to the traditional open surgery, arthroscopy involves smaller incisions, minimal soft tissue trauma, less pain, faster recovery time, low infection rate, less scarring, earlier mobilization, and allows you to go home on the same day of the surgery.
However, as will all surgical procedures, wrist arthroscopy may be involved with certain risks and complications such as infection, damage to the nearby nerves or tissues during surgery and stiffness.