Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
With the exception of emergencies requiring immediate treatment, the diagnosis of hand injuries and disorders begins with a detailed history and physical examination of the patient's hand. During the physical examination, the doctor evaluates...
the range of motion (ROM) in the patient's wrist and fingers. Swollen or tender areas can be felt (palpated) by the clinician. The doctor can assess sensation in the hand by very light pinpricks with a fine sterile needle. In cases of trauma to the hand, the doctor will inspect the hand for bite marks, burns, foreign objects that may be embedded, or damage to deeper anatomical structures within the hand. The tendons will be evaluated for evidence of tearing or cutting. Broken bones or joint injuries will be tender to the touch and are easily visible on x-ray imaging.
The doctor may order special tests, including radiographic imaging (x rays), wound culture, and special diagnostic tests. X rays are the most common and most useful diagnostic tools available to the hand surgeon for evaluating traumatic injuries. Wound cultures are important for assessing injuries involving bites (human or animal) as well as wounds that have been badly contaminated by foreign matter. Such other special tests as a Doppler flowmeter examination can be used to evaluate the patterns of blood flow in the hand.
Before a scheduled operation on the hand, the patient will be given standard blood tests and a physical examination to make sure that he or she does not suffer from a general medical condition that would be a contraindication to surgery.
There are several bones in the wrist joint and trauma to this area can cause one of a number of wrist and arm fractures. One of the most common types of wrist fracture, called a Colles fracture, is discussed as well one way to treat the fracture.
The field of hand surgery deals with both surgical and non-surgical treatment of conditions and problems that may take place in the hand or upper extremity (commonly from the tip of the hand to the shoulder). Hand surgery may be practiced by graduates of general surgery, orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons receive significant training in hand surgery during their residency training, with some graduates continuing on to do an additional one year hand fellowship. These fellowships are sometimes also pursued by general surgeons. Plastic surgeons are particularly well suited to handle traumatic hand and digit amputations that require a "replant" operation. Plastic surgeons are trained to reconstruct all aspects to salvage the appendage: blood vessels, nerves, tendons, muscle, bone. Orthopedic surgeons are particularly well suited to handle complex fractures of the hand and injuries to the carpal bones that alter the mechanics of the wrist. Hand surgeons perform a wide variety of operations such as fracture repairs, nerve decompressions, releases, transfer and repairs of tendons and reconstruction of injuries, rheumatoid deformities and congenital defects.
New procedures like minimally invasive procedures are often subject to scrutiny, but I think that one of the biggest problems facing these innovative procedures is for people to understand exactly what we do.
-Dr. Michael Perry, Laser Spine institute
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