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Your trapezium is a small bone at the base of your wrist that joins your thumb to your wrist. Wear and tear within this joint can cause pain. If conservative treatment methods are not successful your consultant may recommend a trapeziectomy.

What is a trapeziectomy?

A trapeziectomy involves removing the trapezium, a small bone in your wrist. Your arm may be numbed using a regional anaesthetic or a general anaesthetic may be used. Your surgeon will make a small cut on the back of your hand at the base of your thumb, and remove your trapezium. They may construct a ligament to connect the thumb to your wrist using a tendon that runs over the trapezium. 

Your surgeon will close your skin with stitches. Trapeziectomy usually takes 60-90 minutes to complete. You will have a bandage or plaster cast on your hand. To help reduce any swelling it is important to keep your hand raised above your heart using a sling or pillow. Gentle movement of your fingers will prevent them from becoming stiff.

Going home after a trapeziectomy

You may be allowed to go home the day of your surgery.  You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to take you home on the day of discharge.

Continue to take any pain relief medication as needed. After 2 weeks any stitches or staples will be removed. You may be given a lighter splint to protect your thumb but allow you to begin to use your hand.

Once your surgical wound is healed it is safe to get your hand wet. Be sure and dry your hand well before reapplying any bandage or splint. You may need to wear your splint for up to 6 weeks.

After 4 weeks you may be given gentle exercises for your thumb and fingers to help regain strength in your hand.

Discuss resuming driving and any return to work with your surgeon. Recovery to full function may take 6 months or longer.

Most people make a good recovery from a trapeziectomy. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
Specific complications of a trapeziectomy may include:
  • Numbness or pain caused by nerve damage
  • Continued pain or weakness.

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