What is it?

Wrist arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which a small tube fitted with lenses and connected to a television monitor (an arthroscope) is inserted into the wrist. This allows your surgeon to look directly at the structures within your wrist joint to determine the nature and extent of injuries.

Why perform wrist arthroscopy?

Arthroscopy allows nearly all surfaces of the wrist joint to be visualized through a series of very small incisions (portals). The small incisions required for the arthroscope portals decreases the recovery period when compared to traditional surgical procedures. The lenses on the arthroscope magnify the structures in the wrist so that they may be examined in greater detail than is otherwise possible.

Arthroscopy is used as a diagnostic tool to determine the cause of discomfort or dysfunction (such as clicks). It can also be used to treat a variety of injuries such as ligament tears (sprains), broken bones (fractures), inflammation of the lining of the wrist (synovitis), and wearing out of the cartilage (arthritis). Treating these injuries by means of arthroscopy may require several incisions (portals) to visualize the joint from different points of view and to allow various tools to be introduced into the wrist.

Not all injuries can be treated by means of arthroscopy and you will need to discuss with your surgeon if your injury can be treated in this way.

After your arthroscopy

After your arthroscopy your wrist will likely need to be immobilized in a splint or cast depending on the nature of the problem. The period of immobilization also varies for different injuries. You will also need to maintain your hand in an elevated position to avoid excessive swelling and pain.

Figure 1
Schematic of arthroscope.

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