What is it?
A total wrist fusion is a procedure designed to resolve certain painful, arthritic wrist conditions. There are two types of wrist fusion procedures that vary depending on the patient’s needs: Partial wrist fusion enables the preservation of some wrist movement, whereas full or total wrist fusion prevents all wrist movements. During the procedure, cartilage and joint space between the bones may be removed to fuse the bones. This may be done in a variety of ways, but in every case, the bones are held together during the process of fusion with the use of a number of instruments ranging from wires to staples, to screws, to plates. Bone graft is often used to increase the patient’s rate of fusion.
How is it Performed?
The surgeon will make a small incision along the back of the wrist. Once inside, the tendons and ligaments are pushed to the side so the surgeon is able to all the bones and joints of the wrist. The cartilage near the affected area is removed from each of the joints that are going to be fused. From here, all of the space from the cartilage that has been lifted out from the wrist area is replaced with bone grafts that are placed in the spaces of the wrist bones. The surgeon then places a metal plate with screw holes on the back of the wrist ranging from the radius to the metacarpal bone of the middle finger. This plate is supposed to disallow the bones from moving so that they stay in proper alignment as they begin a process of fusing together. It will take the body at least 6 weeks for the fusion to occur. At the end of the operation, the incisions are stitched together.
Meet Our Board-Certified Hand & Wrist Expert
Dr. Julia Kenniston
Hand & Wrist Specialist