Surgical Procedure for the Wrist

Wrist arthroscopy is a type of surgery used to evaluate or repair tissues. During the procedure, a surgeon uses a small camera, called an arthroscope, and tools to look inside your wrist. It is a minimally invasive surgery, so there potentially is less pain and a faster recovery

A doctor may recommend wrist arthroscopy to diagnose your medical condition or to repair a problem in your wrists. It is sometimes performed under general anesthesia, so you will be asleep and not feel any pain.

During the arthroscopic procedure, the surgeon makes a small cut in your wrist to insert the camera, using it to examine the inside of your wrist. If the surgeon needs to repair any of the tissues, he or she will make several more small cuts to insert the tools. You will have stitches and a bandage after the surgery.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Your surgeon may recommend wrist arthroscopy if you are experiencing:

  • Cartilage, ligament or tears
  • Fractures
  • Ganglions (small sacs growing on the joints)
  • Problems with mobility
  • Weakness

The diagnosis process usually starts with your medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor may also order tests, like X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans, before the procedure.  

Wrist arthroscopy is usually an outpatient procedure, so you can go home the same day. After the surgery, you will need to rest and elevate the wrist for two to three days. You may need to change the bandage and take medications to prevent infection. Your doctor may also recommend wearing a splint for several weeks.

Depending on why you had the surgery, you may be able to return to normal activities within a couple of days. If you need more time to heal, it usually takes several weeks.

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Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

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Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

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Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

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We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

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The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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