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Thumbs up for new hand surgery from Addenbrooke’s at Ely Hand Clinic





One of the first people to benefit from a new treatment at the Ely Hand Clinic for patients with arthritic pain in their thumbs says he can’t wait to have surgery on his other hand.

The clinic, run by Addenbrooke’s Hospital, offers a procedure to replace the joint at the base of thumb with a precision-made ball and socket implant made of stainless steel and polyethylene, or titanium for nickel-allergic patients.

Although not suitable for everyone, research shows it can speed up recovery and improve the mechanical function of the arthritic thumb.

The Ely Hand Clinic, run by Addenbrooke’s Hospital, is offering an additional type of treatment for patients with arthritic pain in their thumbs with the procedures being carried out by consultant plastic and hand surgeons Mr Alex Reid and Miss Tereze Laing on patients referred to the clinic. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Ely Hand Clinic, run by Addenbrooke’s Hospital, is offering an additional type of treatment for patients with arthritic pain in their thumbs with the procedures being carried out by consultant plastic and hand surgeons Mr Alex Reid and Miss Tereze Laing on patients referred to the clinic. Picture: Keith Heppell

The procedures are carried out by consultant plastic and hand surgeons Alex Reid and Tereze Laing on patients referred to the clinic near the minor injuries unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

The standard treatment for the condition in the UK is a trapeziectomy, which involves removal of bone at the base of the thumb. Other treatment options include anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections.

Mr Reid, who heads the clinic, said: “The important thing is to have at our disposal a comprehensive range of treatments so we can apply the most appropriate one to each patient. The implant further improves the range of options available.

“Many clinicians have concerns over the limitations of trapeziectomy, in particular the recovery time, the variable gains in pinch strength, and the difficulties in revising the procedure in the event of a poor outcome.

“However not all patients are suitable for the prosthesis since ideally the next joint along should not be arthritic and the trapezium bone must be big enough for the replacement to sit in.”

The procedure replaces the joint at the base of thumb with a precision-made ball and socket implant made of stainless steel and polyethylene, or titanium for nickel-allergic patients. Picture: Keith Heppell
The procedure replaces the joint at the base of thumb with a precision-made ball and socket implant made of stainless steel and polyethylene, or titanium for nickel-allergic patients. Picture: Keith Heppell

Allen Richer, a 57-year-old father-of-two from Royston, was treated as a day patient under general anaesthetic.

Allen, who lives with wife Jeanette, said: “I could not believe how quickly it all healed up, and how soon I became pain-free. My wife is delighted too – it saves her continually having to open packets, packages and bottles for me!

“I suffer from similar problems in my other thumb and although I know there is going to be a bit of a wait, I am really looking forward to getting it sorted out and being pain free in both hands.”

Any GP wishing to refer a patient to the clinic can do so through the Department of Plastic Surgery at Addenbrooke’s.

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