De Quervain's Tendon Release: Before Your Surgery

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What is de Quervain's tendon release?

De Quervain's tendon release is surgery to decrease pressure on a tendon that runs along the side of the wrist near the thumb. Tendons are flexible, rope-like fibres that connect muscle to bone. In de Quervain's (say "duh-kair-VAZ") tendinitis, the tendon becomes swollen. This causes the tendon to rub painfully against the tissue that covers it.

This surgery will probably be done while you are awake. The doctor will give you a shot (injection) to numb your hand and prevent pain. You also may get medicine to help you relax.

During the surgery, the doctor will make a cut (incision) in the skin on the side of your wrist near the base of your thumb. He or she will make a cut to open the tight band over the swollen part of the tendon. This will allow the tendon to move freely without pain. The doctor will close the skin incision with stitches. You will have a scar on the side of your wrist that will fade with time.

You will go home on the same day as the surgery. How soon you can return to work depends on your job. If you can do your job without using your hand, you may be able to go back in 1 or 2 days. But if your job requires you to do repeated hand or wrist movements, put pressure on your hand, or lift things, you may need 6 to 12 weeks off work.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Having surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and how to safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Bring a list of questions to ask your doctors. It is important that you understand exactly what surgery is planned, the risks, benefits, and other options before your surgery.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery, so talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • Before your surgery, you will speak with an anesthesia provider to discuss your anesthetic options, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to each. This may be on the phone or in person.

Taking care of yourself before surgery

  • Build healthy habits into your life. Changes are best made several weeks before surgery, since your body may react to sudden changes in your habits.
    • Stay as active as you can.
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Cut back or quit alcohol and tobacco.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you do not have one, you may want to prepare one so your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors recommend that everyone prepare these papers before surgery, regardless of the type of surgery or condition.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, please do so using only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do NOT shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Remove all jewellery, piercings, and contact lenses.
  • Leave your valuables at home.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • Before surgery you will be asked to repeat your full name, what surgery you are having, and what part of your body is being operated on. The area for surgery may be marked.
  • A small tube (IV) will be placed in a vein, to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax. Because of the combination of medicines given to keep you comfortable, you may not remember much about the operating room.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your doctor. You will get medicine to numb the surgery area.
  • The surgery usually takes about 30 minutes.
  • As you wake up in the recovery room, the nurse will check to be sure you are stable and comfortable. It is important for you to tell your doctor and nurse how you feel and ask questions about any concerns you may have.
  • After surgery, you will have a thick bandage on your hand and wrist. You may not be able to bend your wrist.
  • You may have a splint on your hand.
  • You may have a tube coming out of your skin near the incision to drain fluids. Your doctor will remove the tube a day or two after surgery.
  • You will probably go home after an hour in the recovery room.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home.
  • For your safety, you should not drive until you can use your hand and can move and react easily. This usually takes 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Arrange for extra help at home after surgery, especially if you live alone or provide care for another person.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery, including activity and when you may return to work.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016