What is hand and wrist trauma surgery?

Trauma to the hand and wrist can involve lacerations, fractures, amputations or a combination. This procedure aims to repair the injury where possible to bring relief and optimize the best outcome for the patient. Options include laceration repair, tendon repair, nerve and artery repair, fixation of fractures with pins, screws or plates.

Who does this procedure suit?

Those who have experienced recent hand and wrist injuries and need surgery to repair the injury.

What results will I expect?

This is dependent on the injury and surgery involved. Your surgeon aims to repair and restore the trauma as much as possible.

What’s the first step to take?

During your initial consultation your surgeon will determine the type and location of injury, any expectations you have, questions about the procedure, medical history and current medication. Your surgeon may arrange for x-rays to be performed to confirm the diagnosis prior to surgery. We will provide as much information as possible so that you feel comfortable and informed.

How do I prepare for surgery?

Please ensure you have arranged someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out at home for a few days. If you have an injury that requires surgery immediately then do your best to reduce risk of bleeding and bruising by making sure to:

  • Avoid aspirin (or similar) and Vitamin E two weeks before surgery if possible. Panadol, and vitamins B and C are safe to use.
  • Inform your surgeon if you take any herbal medicines that may affect clotting and the anesthetic.
  • Avoid smoking before and after surgery so as not to restrict circulation to the area and delay healing. Giving up altogether is best.
  • Inform us immediately if you’ve had any infection (cold or flu) the week before your surgery.

What happens on the day of my surgery?

We will guide you to prepare for surgery so that your procedure and recovery go smoothly.

  • If your procedure is in the morning – do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
  • If your procedure is in the afternoon – do not eat or drink anything after 8.00am.

What should I expect during surgery?

Hand and wrist trauma surgery is performed under general anesthetic or a light sedation with local anesthetic depending on the injury. Whichever you choose, you will be very comfortable and experience no pain during the surgery.

Surgery can take anywhere from 30 minutes for simple procedures to several hours for more complex surgery. Most patients are able to go home a few hours after their procedure, or may require to stay overnight.

What should I expect after surgery?

  • Your hand will be in a bulky bandage and likely a plaster with a sling to wear at home. You may notice some bruising, which will fade in 4-5 days.
  • Local anesthetic is used at the end of the procedure so that you have pain relief for the following 6-8 hours.
  • With most procedures, some discomfort is normal for the first few days which is easily relieved with oral analgesics. Keeping the hand elevated in a sling for 2 days will also help settle the pain.
  • A follow up appointment will be made 7-10 days after to assess that the wound has healed well and to remove any sutures. If necessary, we will refer you to see our hand therapist for any recovery needed.
  • After 2 weeks your hand may be used for light duties and return to heavier activities after 4-6 weeks. Depending on the injury and surgery your surgeon or hand therapist will guide you.

What are the risks and complications with this procedure?

As with any surgery there are some risks involved such as:

  • Infection, excessive bleeding or bruising
  • Nerve injury (less than 1%)
  • Wrist pain/ache (5-10% of patients, which settles in 3-4 months)

Please call our office if you experience any of the following: excessive pain or bleeding, abnormal swelling or fever during the first 24 hours.