What is an arthroscopy of the wrist?

An arthroscopy (also called keyhole surgery) allows your surgeon to see inside your wrist using a camera inserted through small cuts in the skin. They should be able to treat some problems using surgical instruments.

The main benefit of surgery is to confirm exactly what the problem is and, in many cases, to treat the problem at the same time.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Problems inside a joint can often be diagnosed using tests such as CT and MRI scans. However, you may then need an arthroscopy to treat the problem.

What does the operation involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques is possible. The operation usually takes about twenty minutes.

Your surgeon will usually make about two to four small cuts around the joint. They will place a small telescope through one of the cuts so they can examine the joint. They will place surgical instruments through the other cuts if they need to treat any problems with the joint.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring

Specific complications

  • Bleeding into the joint
  • Infection in the joint
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the arm and hand (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Damage to nerves
  • Damage to tendons

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Wrist arthroscopy 

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This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Horder Centre. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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