Hand surgery is a broad term that covers many different types of procedures. Plastic surgeons who perform hand surgery seek to restore hand and finger function. But hand surgeons also try to make the hand look as normal as possible, as well.
Hand reconstructive surgery may be done for many reasons, including, hand injuries; rheumatic diseases, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, that change and damage the structures in the hand; degenerative changes to the structures in the hand, problems or defects of the hand that are present at birth, or congenital and infections of the hand.
Many different types of surgeries can be performed on the hand. It depends on the underlying cause of the problem. These procedures include:
- Skin grafts
Skin grafts for the hand involve replacing or attaching skin to a part of the hand that has missing skin.
- Skin flaps
Like a skin graft, skin flaps for the hand involve taking skin from another part of the body. Flaps may be used when an area that is missing skin does not have a good blood supply.
- Closed reduction and fixation
This may be used when there is a bone fracture, or broken bone, in part of the hand, including the fingers.
- Tendon repair
Tendons are the fibres that join muscle to bone. Tendon repair in the hand is a difficult surgery because of the structure of the tendon. Tendon injuries can occur due to infection, trauma, or sudden rupture. There are 3 types of tendon repair viz., Primary repair, Delayed primary repair and Secondary repair.
- Nerve repairs
An injury can damage the nerves in the hand. This can cause a loss of hand function and a loss of feeling in the hand. Some nerve injuries may heal on their own. Others may require surgery. Generally, surgery is done about 3 to 6 weeks after the injury. This is the best time for nerve repairs that are linked with other more complicated injuries.
This procedure is done to help treat compartment syndrome. This painful condition occurs when there is swelling and increased pressure in a small space, or compartment, in the body. Often this is caused by an injury. This pressure can interfere with blood flow to the body tissues and destroy function. In the hand, compartment syndrome may cause severe and increasing pain and muscle weakness. Over time, it can cause a change in colour of the fingers or nail beds.
- Surgical drainage or debridement
Hand infections are very common. Treatment for hand infections may include rest, using heat, elevation, antibiotics, and surgery.
- Joint replacement
This type of surgery, also called arthroplasty, is used in cases of severe hand arthritis. It involves replacing a joint that has been destroyed by arthritis with an artificial joint. This artificial joint may be made of metal, plastic, silicone rubber, or your own body tissue, such as a tendon.