Artificial Joint Replacement in the Finger, Hand & Wrist

What is artificial joint replacement

Joint replacement surgery refers to the procedure to replace a destroyed or damaged joint with an artificial joint. Usually, the joint is made out of metal, plastic or silicon. Joint replacement surgery, also referred to as joint arthroplasty is very common, and is most commonly used in the larger joints like hip and knee.

In the recent decades, small joint arthroplasty, namely for the finger joints and wrist replacement surgery have been performed with increasing numbers. Studies have been promising, especially with the newer improved metallic alloys like cobalt chromium and the likes.

The advantage of artificial joint replacement in hand, wrist and finger is that the patient is able to maintain range of motion, with reduced pain.

Indications of Joint Replacement

As mentioned previously, joint arthroplasty is indicated in damaged or destroyed joints. This may be due to degeneration or as a result of previous injury. (Figures A-B)

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With the increasing prevalence of inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and gout, and the affluent lifestyles adopted by many, painful, swollen joints as a result of joint cartilage degeneration are a common occurrence. In these situations, joint arthroplasty will be beneficial, as it reduces pain and improves or at least maintains the range of motion.

Types of finger and wrist joint replacements

Materials used for finger joint implants can range from silicon, to various synthetic plastic and metal alloys. (Figure C) The material and implant used depends on the underlying pathology, combined with various factors like joint involved, patient requirements and surgical expertise available.

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Finger joint replacement implants are now available for all finger joints, namely:

  • Distal interphalangeal joint
  • Proximal interphalangeal joint (Figure D, E, F & G)
  • Metacarpophalangeal joint
  • 1st carpometacarpal joint (base of thumb joint) (Figure H & I)

For the wrist arthroplasty, various implant modules have been used as well:

  • Hemi- wrist implant
  • Total wrist implant (Figure J)

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For more details on the suitability of joint arthroplasty, please consult your specialist Hand surgeon and discuss the various hand treatment options.