What is wrist arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is a way to find problems and do surgery inside a joint without making a large cut (incision). Your doctor puts a lighted tube with a tiny camera through small incisions. The camera is called an arthroscope, or scope.
Wrist arthroscopy can treat several problems.
- For arthritis, your doctor smooths the rough surfaces of your wrist bones. Inflamed or thickened tissue may also be removed.
- For a wrist that does not move easily, or feels as though it locks, your doctor may repair or take out a loose piece of cartilage or bone.
- For a broken wrist, your doctor can put the bones back in the correct positions.
- For a wrist with pain and limited movement, your doctor may find and remove scar tissue. Or a growth called a ganglion cyst may be removed.
You probably will go home on the day of the surgery. When you can go back to your usual routine depends on your wrist problem. You may need about 6 weeks to recover. It may take longer if you had damaged tissue repaired. You may have to limit your activity until your wrist strength and movement are back to normal. You may also need physical or occupational therapy.
If you have a desk job, you may be able to go back to work a few days to a few weeks after the surgery. If you lift things or do physical labor at work, it may be 1 to 2 months before you can go back.
How do you prepare for surgery?
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
Preparing for surgery
- You may need to shower or bathe with a special soap the night before and the morning of your surgery. The soap contains chlorhexidine. It reduces the amount of bacteria on your skin that could cause an infection after surgery.
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of surgery?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
Wear a shirt that is easy to put on and take off. Your wrist may have a large bandage or be in a sling after surgery.
At the hospital or surgery center
Bring a picture ID.
The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may be asleep or have medicine to relax you. And if you're awake, the area will be numbed. It's often numbed even if you are asleep.
The surgery will take about 1 to 2 hours.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
- You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.
Where can you learn more?
Enter E120 in the search box to learn more about "Wrist Arthroscopy: Before Your Surgery".