In this procedure the Trapezium is removed and one of the ‘spare’ tendons around the base of the thumb is used to stabilise the thumb. This is the mainstay of treatment of thumb base arthritis and is a time proven procedure.
Around 80% of patients will have complete relief of pain and the majority of the remainder will be much better off than before surgery.
The operation itself takes around an hour and can be done under general anaesthesia – with you asleep; or under regional anaesthesia – with a numb arm. There will be a scar on the back of the thumb, typically around 4-5cm.
After the operation you will be in a cast for a total of six weeks. After the first two weeks you will come back to have your stitches taken out and be put into a new cast for the remaining period. After this you will be given exercises to get the thumb moving. You may be referred for hand therapy if needed. It typically takes around three months from surgery to be comfortable and it will continue to improve up to a year.
Any surgery carries risk; in addition to the risks of any surgery to the hand; problems that can happen with trapeziectomy are shortening of the thumb, damage to some of the small skin nerves around the scar causing numbness or pain and the amount of time it can take to recover from the operation.