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Carpometacarpal Ligament Repair

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What do I need to know about carpometacarpal (CMC) ligament repair?

CMC ligament repair is used to treat arthritis at the carpometacarpal joint. This is the area at the base of your thumb where your thumb bones meet your wrist bones. This surgery is also called ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI).

How do I prepare for surgery?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you home.

What will happen during surgery?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain. Your surgeon will make an incision near the base of your thumb.
  • All or part of the trapezium, the small bone at the base of your thumb, may be removed. Your surgeon will drill a hole in a thumb bone near the space where the trapezium was removed. A tendon (cord of tissue) will be taken from your wrist and passed through the hole. The tendon will be rolled up and placed into the space where the trapezium used to be. This provides a cushion for the remaining bones. A pin may be used to hold the joint in place. The incision will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage.

What will happen after surgery?

You may have a splint on your hand and arm. This splint is used for 2 weeks or until the stitches are removed. At that time, a cast is placed on your hand and arm for 4 to 6 weeks. If you have a pin in your wrist, it will be removed when the cast comes off after 4 to 6 weeks.

What are the risks of CMC ligament repair?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may develop scar tenderness. You may have long-term discomfort in your hand. Your sense of touch may feel different than it used to. You may develop numbness from nerve damage during surgery. Your symptoms may not go away completely. You may not have the same strength of pinch or grasp as you did before surgery.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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