A wrist arthroscopy is a keyhole operation on the wrist joint. It serves two main purposes. Primarily, it is a visual inspection of the inside of the wrist. Based on the visual inspection, the procedure can also be used to carry out small repairs, either during the same surgery or during a subsequent operation.
What does a wrist arthroscopy involve?
'Arthro-' is the Greek-derived term relating to joints, so 'arthroscopy' means literally to look inside a joint. The instrument used is called an arthroscope: it is a very slender bundle of optical fibres that illuminates the inside of your joint and relays live images to a screen in front of the surgeon.
Usually there are two very small incisions made in the back of your wrist: one is for the visual inspection, the other can be used for other instruments that can help identify and treat the problems at the same time.Because the incisions are so small it is usually possible to recover more quickly from arthroscopy than from other forms of wrist surgery. The procedure is usually performed as a day case.
What can wrist arthroscopy treat?
The aim of a wrist arthroscopy is to detect and treat damaged tissue. This can be relevant to a wide range of wrist complaints, including the following:
- Cartilage tears : The triangular fibrocartilage (TFCC) is a 'cushion' between the bones of the wrist joint that can be damaged through injury or wear-and-tear. An arthroscopy can reveal exactly where the damage has occurred; it may be possible to either repair minor tears or remove any loose cartilage.
- Wrist arthritis or synovitis : These conditions can sometimes be treated by removing or repairing irritated tissue on joint surfaces through keyhole surgery. It may also be possible to trim bone spurs to improve freedom of movement in the wrist.
- Ulna-impaction syndrome : Under certain conditions ulna-impaction syndrome can be treated through keyhole surgery by removing a tiny amount of bone and cartilage - just enough to prevent it from causing impingement in the wrist. It is sometimes called the "wafer procedure" on account of the thin wafer of bone that is removed.
- Carpal instability : Some wrist injuries cause ligament tears, which can be difficult to diagnose using scans alone. A wrist arthroscopy can be useful in confirming the type of damage and seeing how it may be treated, which opens up a discussion with you about the options for follow-up surgery.
In all cases, the first aim is to confirm exactly what the problem is and in many cases it is possible to carry out surgical treatment at the same time.
Contact us and make an appointment
In order to plan a wrist arthroscopy, we will need to be sure the procedure is necessary by making a diagnosis first. Please get in contact with us to make an appointment for an initial discussion.