Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to inspect and treat a number of articular problems in the wrist or smaller joints. It involves minimal pain and a rapid recovery time.

What is arthroscopy of the hand and wrist?

The procedure consists in making two tiny incisions in the wrist. A miniaturized camera and instruments are inserted to allow examination of the cartilage and ligaments in the wrist.

When is arthroscopy of the hand and wrist a recommended treatment?

Arthroscopy is a valuable procedure in the treatment of a variety of pathologies but it is also used to diagnose a problem in the hand or wrist joint.

Magnetic and nuclear resonance imaging and X-rays are not always sensitive or specific enough to detect pathologies of the ligaments and cartilage.

This procedure is also used to treat a number of other issues, such as torn ligaments and damaged cartilaginous tissue.

Common indications of arthroscopy

Osteoarthritis of thumb joint: debridement of damaged joint tissue and insertion of an implant between the trapezium and the first metacarpal to ease early-stage yet painful osteoarthritis. This is a revolutionary technique that is truly much less invasive than the alternatives.
Tears in the scapholunate or luno-pyramidal wrist ligaments
Tears in the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC): relief from pain through repair, reinsertion or debridement of ligament.
Cubital tunnel syndrome with internal hyperpressure: the arthroscopy allows for debridement of the TFCC and shortens the cubitus by a few millimetres.

How is arthroscopy of the hand or wrist performed?

The procedure is done with a regional anaesthetic. The patient’s arm is placed in traction and prepared sterilely.

An endoscope is inserted into the joint, along with miniature instruments to explore the wrist and, if necessary, debride the torn ligaments or worn cartilage. The incisions are then closed. An orthotic device is put in place for a few days to make the patient more comfortable and able to perform the prescribed rehabilitation exercises. Improvement is felt over a period of several months.

Complications are rare and include the risk of nervous or tendon lesions, infection or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).