Trapeziectomy

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What is the trapezium?

The trapezium is the cube-shaped bone in your wrist that is joined to the base of your thumb (trapeziometacarpal joint).

How does osteoarthritis happen?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, where there is gradual wear and tear of a joint.

Osteoarthritis eventually wears away the normal cartilage covering the surface of the joint. The bone underneath becomes damaged, causing joint pain, stiffness and weakness.

What are the benefits of surgery?

The main benefit of surgery is to relieve pain and so improve how your thumb works.

Are there any alternatives to a trapeziectomy?
A splint often helps by restricting the movement of your thumb but you may find that a splint makes it difficult for you to perform normal activities.

A steroid injection into the joint can reduce pain in most people but the symptoms usually come back after several weeks or months.

It is possible to replace the joint with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic but most thumb joint replacements have a high failure rate and can also cause pain.

For young and active people with no arthritis below the trapezium, it may be better to have an arthrodesis (where the thumb bones are permanently fixed together using screws).

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

The operation usually takes an hour to 90 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a small cut on the back of your hand at the base of your thumb, and remove the trapezium. Your surgeon may construct a ligament to connect the thumb to your wrist using a tendon that runs over the trapezium.

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Keep your hand raised for 2 weeks.

The bandage or cast will be removed after 4 to 6 weeks.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Your thumb should continue to improve over the next year as you get back a good range of movement.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin

Specific complications of this operation

  • Continued numbness or pain
  • Damage to the artery that passes near to the trapezium
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your hand

Availability

NHS/Private

Pricing*

Consultant
£690
Anaesthetist
£235
Hospital
£3,533
Guide price
£4,458

*The prices shown are minimum guide prices only. Diagnostic scans and investigations are not included unless otherwise stated. The exact cost of treatment will be made clear to you before you proceed.

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice your healthcare team gives you. This information is published under license from EIDO Healthcare UK and is protected by copyright. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print, download or otherwise reproduce it.

Osteoarthritis at the base of your thumb can cause pain when you use your thumb and prevent you from performing normal activities. A trapeziectomy can relieve the pain and so improve how your thumb works.

What to do next
  1. Talk to us about ways to pay, either insured or self-pay, and find out if you need a referral from your doctor.
  2. If you need one, ask your doctor for a referral letter.
  3. Call us to book an appointment with a consultant.
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I can’t thank everyone enough for the amazing care given. Such lovely attentive nurses. I will definitely recommend St Hughs and Mr Riaz and his team. Brilliant hospital.

Could not fault anything about my stay in St Hughs. Everybody was wonderful. Thank you all.

Everybody was kind, considerate and a jolly bunch, which helps to put you at ease and gives you confidence in knowing that they know what they are doing. 5 stars.

All staff extremely kind, patient and friendly. A credit to the hospital. Thank you.

Very good hospital and very good staff. I have never met so many caring people in one place. The nursing was 1st class. The encouragement to walk was also very good.

I had an amazing experience during my time at St Hugh’s Hospital, from my initial consultation to the aftercare following my procedure. Communication with the cosmetic nurse was brilliant; every member of staff I met was kind respectful, caring and polite. My surgeon was fantastic, so professional and kind, I trusted his knowledge completely.