A trapeziectomy is sometimes classified as a hand surgery. To be more specific, however, this medical procedure involves surgery of the thumb. The trapezium is a small bone at the base of the thumb. The procedure to remove this bone is properly referred to as trapeziectomy.
The need for trapeziectomy usually stems from cases of osteoarthritis. This disease is the result of normal cartilage degeneration. The body’s means to compensate for the loss cartilage in these instances is by promoting bone overgrowth. Instead of correcting the problem, however, a more painful problem is generally created. In addition to the pain, osteoarthritis can limit a person’s ability to perform certain tasks, such as applying a secure enough grip to turn a door handle.
Removing the trapezium provides additional space for the other bones to move. This can result in pain relief because the remaining bones that are arthritic do not have to make contact with another surface. It can also help a person regain abilities that had previously been lost or diminished.
Trapeziectomy is not the only thumb surgery, but it is generally considered to be one of the easiest. Physicians do not, however, tend to employ this surgical procedure as a primary measure. Generally, several pain relief methods have been exhausted before surgery is suggested.
This is generally an outpatient surgery. The arm is generally numbed with either local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Afterward, the surgeon usually gains access to the trapezium by making an incision at the base of the thumb.
The post-surgical procedures, however, are much lengthier. The dressing and stitching must usually remain on the site for two weeks. Afterward, the patient may be required to wear a splint for six weeks. During this time, the patient is advised to see a therapist and will be taught exercises that she needs to use to prevent the thumb from getting stiff and regain lost abilities. Complete recovery often takes up to six months.
This type of thumb surgery is generally safe. Most of the noted side effects for trapeziectomy are listed as rare. One such side effect is chronic regional pain syndrome. This involves pain, swelling, and sensitivity that are considered abnormal even when considering that a surgical procedure has been performed. In other rare instances nerve damage, which results in numbness, has also been noted to occur.