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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Oct 7;(4):CD004631. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004631.pub3.

Surgery for thumb (trapeziometacarpal joint) osteoarthritis.

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Hand Therapy at Hornsby, 2/49 Palmerston Rd, Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia, 2077.

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This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in 2005. Surgery has been used to treat persistent pain and dysfunction at the base of the thumb. However, there is no evidence to suggest that any one surgical procedure is superior to another.


To compare the effect of different surgical techniques in reducing pain and improving physical function, patient global assessment, range of motion and strength in people with trapeziometacarpal osteoarthritis at 12 months. Additionally, to investigate whether there was any improvement or deterioration in outcomes between the 12-month review and five year follow up.


We searched:(CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2008, issue 1), MEDLINE (1950 to Dec 2008), CINAHL (1982 to Dec 2008), AMED (1985 to Dec 2008) and EMBASE (1974 to Dec 2008), and performed handsearching of conference proceedings and reference lists from reviews and papers.


Randomised or quasi-randomised trials where the intervention was surgery and pain, physical function, patient global assessment, range of motion or strength was measured as an outcome.


Two review authors independently selected studies according to the inclusion criteria, assessed the risk of bias and extracted data, including adverse effects. We contacted trial authors for missing information.


We included nine studies involving 477 participants. Seven surgical procedures were identified (trapeziectomy with ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI), trapeziectomy, trapeziectomy with ligament reconstruction, trapeziectomy with interpositional arthroplasty, Artelon joint resurfacing, arthrodesis and joint replacement). Studies reported results of a mixed group of participants with Stage II-IV osteoarthritis, with a range of improvement for pain and physical function. The majority of studies included in this review had an unclear risk of bias which raises some doubt about the results. No procedure demonstrated any superiority over another in terms of pain, physical function, patient global assessment or range of motion. Of participants who underwent trapeziectomy with ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition, 22% had adverse effects (including scar tenderness, tendon adhesion or rupture, sensory change, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Type 1)) compared to 10% who underwent trapeziectomy. Trapeziectomy with ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition is therefore associated with 12% more adverse effects (RR = 2.21, 95% CI 1.18 to 4.15).


Although it appears that no one procedure produces greater benefit in terms of pain and physical function, there was insufficient evidence to be conclusive. Trapeziectomy has fewer complications than trapeziectomy with LRTI.

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