Wrist arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera and surgical tools to examine or repair the tissues inside or around your wrist. The camera is called an arthroscope. The procedure allows the doctor to detect problems and make repairs to the wrist without making larger cuts in the skin and tissue. This means that you may have less pain and recover more quickly than open surgery.
Wrist surgery; Arthroscopy - wrist; Surgery - wrist - arthroscopy; Surgery - wrist - arthroscopic; Carpal tunnel release
You will likely receive general anesthesia before this surgery. This means you will be asleep and unable to feel pain. Or, you will have regional anesthesia. Your arm and wrist area will be numbed so that you do not feel any pain. If you receive regional anesthesia, you will also be given medicine to make you very sleepy during the operation.
During the procedure, the surgeon does the following:
At the end of the surgery, the incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a dressing (bandage). Most surgeons take pictures from the video monitor during the procedure to show you what they found and what repairs they made.
Your surgeon may need to do open surgery if there is a lot of damage. Open surgery means you will have a large incision so that the surgeon can get directly to your bones and tissues.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
You might need wrist arthroscopy if you have one of these problems:
Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general are:
Risks for wrist arthroscopy are:
Before the Procedure
Before the surgery:
On the day of surgery:
After the Procedure
You can go home the same day after spending an hour or so in recovery. You should have someone drive you home.
Arthroscopy uses small cuts in the skin, so compared to open surgery, you may have:
The small cuts will heal quickly and you may be able to resume your normal activities in a few days. But, if a lot of tissue in your wrist had to be repaired, it may take several weeks to heal.
You may be shown how to do gentle exercises with your fingers and hand. Your doctor may also recommend that you see a physical therapist to help you regain the full use of your wrist.
Cannon DL. Wrist disorders. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 69.
Geissler WB, Keen CA. Wrist arthroscopy. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 73.
Review Date: 4/21/2019
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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