Trapeziectomy

The trapezium is a small bone in your wrist at the base of your thumb which is commonly affected by arthritis.  A trapeziectomy is the removal of this bone.  This is procedure is usually only considered if all non-surgical methods (painkillers, splint or injections) have been unsuccessful.

What happens?

The operation is performed under general anaesthetic or regional block, where the whole arm is numbed during the surgery.

A small incision is made at the base of the thumb and the trapezium is removed. Your surgeon may construct a ligament to connect the thumb to your wrist using a tendon that runs over the trapezium. At the end of the operation, a dissolvable or non-dissolvable stitch is used to close the skin and a padded dressing is applied.

You will usually be able to go home on the same day. Your hand will need to be elevated for at least the first 48 hours to prevent excessive swelling.

Following surgery, you will be fitted with a splint, and given advice on exercises to help build the strength in your hand. You may need to wear the splint for up to 6 weeks.

You will be able to return to driving when you can safely control a vehicle. This is usually 6-12 weeks after surgery. You may return to work when you feel you have enough strength and movement in your hands to safely do your job but it may be up to 6 months before you will be able to undertake heavy tasks. Residual soreness will continue to settle for up to 12 months after your surgery.

What are the risks?

General complications of any surgical procedure include:

• Pain
• Bleeding
• Infection
• Scarring

Specific complications of this procedure may include:

• Continued numbness or pain
• Stiffness and pain

Discuss with your surgeon how any risks may apply to you.