Treatment of Early Basal Joint Arthritis Using a Combined Arthroscopic Debridement and Metacarpal Osteotomy

Article in Techniques in Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery · July 2007


Osteoarthritis of the thumb basal joint is a common and disabling condition, and early stages of which are often seen in middle-aged women. Arthroscopic assessment of the first carpometacarpal joint allows easy identification and classification of joint pathology with mini-mal morbidity. This allows the condition to be managed either arthroscopically or converted to an open procedure as indicated. Different procedures have been described to treat different stages of this disease. The senior author has recently described an arthroscopic staging system to determine treatment for basal joint osteoarthritis. We now present our surgical technique and early clinical experience with arthroscopic synovectomy, debridement, and corrective osteotomy for arthroscopic stage II of thumb basal joint arthritis. Forty-three patients (38 women and 5 men) were arthroscopically diagnosed as having stage II basal joint osteoarthritis of the thumb between 1998 and 2001, and they were the focus of the present study. In all the patients, there was no improvement after a period of 6 to 12 weeks of conservative treatment. All the procedures were performed by the senior author. The surgical procedure included arthroscopic synovectomy, debridement, and occasional thermal capsulorraphy, followed by an extension-abduction closing wedge osteotomy in all the cases. A 0.045-in Kirschner wire provided stability to the osteotomy. By performing an osteotomy that redirects the axial loads in this joint, we have obtained satisfactory results in terms of pain relief, stability, and pinch strength. Arthroscopy allows us to not only determine the optimum indication for this osteotomy, but also to debride the joint and minimize the inflammatory response. Hence, we recommend arthroscopic synovectomy, debridement with or without a thermal capsulorraphy, and a dorsoradial closing wedge osteotomy for the treatment of arthroscopic stage II of thumb carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis. 

Keywords: thumb, carpometacarpal, osteoarthritis, arthroscopy, osteotomy

Badia Hand to Shoulder Center

Cite this article: Badia, Alejandro & Khanchandani, Prakash. (2007). Treatment of Early Basal Joint Arthritis Using a Combined Arthroscopic Debridement and Metacarpal Osteotomy. Techniques in hand & upper extremity surgery. 11. 168-73. 10.1097/bth.0b013e3180437602.