In this type of procedure, an orthopaedic surgeon uses an arthroscope, which is a small, fiber optic instrument, that allows the surgeon to see inside the joint and perform procedures – and all without making large incisions into the muscle and tissue.
When it comes to the human wrist, it’s important to note that this particular joint is a complex one, consisting of eight small bones as well as many ligaments. Therefore, arthroscopic surgery can be used to diagnose and treat a number of conditions of the wrist, including chronic wrist pain, wrist fractures, ganglion cysts, and ligament tears. An orthopaedic surgeon may also utilize arthroscopic surgery as a diagnostic tool if pain persists and the cause is unclear.
To perform the procedure, small incisions (typically less than half an inch in length) will be made in specific locations around the wrist so that the arthroscope can be inserted. The arthroscope is roughly the size of a pencil and contains a miniature camera, a small lens, and a light source. Once the arthroscope is in place, three dimensional images of the wrist are projected onto a monitor via the camera. This allows the orthopaedic surgeon to watch the monitor as the scope is maneuvered in the joint.
As stated previously, arthroscopic surgery can be used to treat a variety of conditions of the wrist. This would include:
Wrist fractures – After a break has occurred, it’s possible that small fragments of bone may stay within the joint. Wrist arthroscopy allows for the removal of these fragments, as well as the ability to align the broken pieces of bone and stabilize them by using pins, wires, or screws.
Carpal tunnel release – Carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized by numbness or tingling in the hand, and sometimes with pain up the arm. It is caused by pressure on a nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. If it does not respond to nonsurgical treatment, one option is to relieve the pressure in the area surgically, which can often times be done arthroscopically.
Chronic wrist pain – Arthroscopic exploratory surgery may be used to diagnose the cause of chronic wrist pain when the results of other tests do not provide a clear diagnosis. Often, there may be areas of inflammation, cartilage damage, or other findings after a wrist injury. In some cases, after the diagnosis is made, the condition can be treated arthroscopically as well.
If wrist pain is something that you’re dealing with, please know that treatment options are available! Dr. Hurlbut and Dr. Machado here at Prairie Orthopaedic & Plastic Surgery, PC specialize in treating issues involving the wrist and hand. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!