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Common questions relating to Total Wrist Fusion

How long will I be in the hospital and what should I bring?

  • This procedure is done as a day case, meaning you will be allowed to go home the same day with no overnight stay in the hospital. Very occasional social or medical conditions require an overnight stay.

What are the risks?

  • There are risks with anaesthesia, and your anaesthetist will discuss these with you.
  • Small risk of infection through surgery. Inform the healthcare team if you have a temperature, increasing pain, increased swelling and discomfort or notice any smell from the dressings.
  • Bleeding: This can happen during or after surgery. This generally stops by itself. The risk of bleeding is higher in patients who take blood thinning medication. Your doctor will advise you if you need to stop any of this to reduce the risk before surgery. The risk of damage to the artery or vein around the wrist is possible but if identified at the time of surgery is unlikely to cause any noticeable problems in future.
  • Risk of nerve injury/neuroma (a painful spot on/near the nerve) through injury/swelling. 
  • Risk of injury to tendons which help move fingers. More common is tendon irritation which may mean the plate has to be removed. 
  • Risk that the wrist may not fuse and therefore require further surgery
  • Risk of problematic scar tissue. After the operation, there is a risk that you may have problems with scarring, including tender/sensitive scarring. Thick/hard scarring causing reduced movement. 
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (a malfunction of the nervous system that controls your brain): Pain, stiffness, loss of use of the hand. The exact cause remains unknown, and it varies in severity and is treated by means of painkillers and physiotherapy. This can take several weeks to months to improve.

When can I drive again?

  • You cannot drive until you feel you can safely grip the steering wheel in both hands to control the car. This is normally 8-10 weeks at the earliest. Sometimes it can take longer to get full function. 

When can I go back to work?

This depends on the type of job you undertake. Desk based job with no major physical activity can be started at 8-10 weeks. Heavy lifting is not recommended until 4-6 months after surgery depending on the progress of fusion seen on serial x-rays. If you do a lot of physical work with heavy lifting then it can take up to 6 months.

When can I do housework?

Light household work can be started at 8-10 week mark, depending upon your progress. The wrist brace must be worn as the surgeon and therapy team advised. 

How will I know the surgery has been successful?

When your surgeon is happy with the union seen at the fusion site, and you have minimal or no pain. This can take 6-12 months. 

What is the recovery timeline?

The wrist will be placed in a plaster cast for 6-8 weeks, and a splint may be needed for another 6-8 weeks. Return to full activity, including manual work, can take 6-12 months. 

When should I get back in touch with the surgeon?

If you are experiencing any problems with the operated wrist and continue to have pain after discharge from the clinic.

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One Health Group utilises specialist consultants and healthcare managers working together to provide the best possible diagnosis and treatment for our patients.