The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued full guidance to the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on artificial metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joint replacement for end-stage arthritis.
This procedure is used to treat osteoarthritis of the hand. Common sites of osteoarthritis which may be suitable for artificial implants include the wrist, the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb (also called trapeziometacarpal joint) and the metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints of the fingers and thumb. Osteoarthritis of hand joints is a common condition which deteriorates over time, although severity of symptoms, rate of deterioration and functional effects are variable.
The surgeon removes the diseased joints in an open operation and replaces them with an implant, typically made of a silicone based material. A range of implants from different manufacturers are available for different joints.
Other treatments for osteoarthritis of the hand include conservative management with anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication; complete joint excision (also called excision arthroplasty); fusion of the joint (arthrodesis); and native graft arthroplasties, in which the patient's own tissue (typically tendons) is interposed in the space left after joint excision.
There are no routinely available data on the number of procedures carried out in the UK each year on hand joints.