Hand surgery addresses medical complications of the hand, wrist, and forearm. Hand surgeons are board-certified physicians (typically orthopedic or plastic) who have received additional specialty training in the area of hand surgery.
What is it?
When a patient is experiencing injuries, pain, or other ailments of the hands, forearms, or wrists, he or she may require hand surgery to fix the problem. Hand surgeons diagnose, treat, and operate on hands, wrists, and even forearms when necessary. Examples of conditions or injuries in need of correction consist of carpal tunnel syndrome, hand or wrist tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, and hand fractures.
What should I do to prepare?
A patient needs to talk with his or her doctor and surgeon to review medications, allergies, x-rays or other necessary tests before receiving surgery. Patients should refrain from eating or drinking in the evening before the surgery to avoid complications with anesthesia such as aspiration. When a patient is put under anesthesia, it is possible for food in the stomach to be expelled from the lungs. Additionally, the patient should refrain from taking blood thinners during the week prior to the surgery, since these drugs increase the risk of bleeding during the operation. The patient should consult with his/her doctor about the use of blood thinners based on his or her health needs since some may require them for stroke prevention.
What happens during the procedure?
Depending on the necessary procedure, patients will opt for different forms of anesthesia which can be general, regional, or local. General anesthesia is utilized when the patient is put completely to sleep for the duration of the procedure. Regional anesthesia is used when the patient receives an epidural block that numbs only a region of the body that is affected during the surgery. The numbing generally persists for two to three hours after surgery. Local anesthesia is used when anesthesia is administered via a numbing shot at the surgical site. The patient’s anesthesiologist will discuss these options with both the patient and the patient’s surgeons, and will provide clear recommendations as to which should be used. If a patient chooses to remain awake for this surgery, he or she will not be able to view the surgery because a surgical drape will be blocking the view. Hand surgeries may involve the addition of rods or screws to stabilize and expedite the healing of bone injuries.
What are the risks and potential complications?
- Blood clots
- Changes in skin sensation
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Damage to nerves
- Persisting pain
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