Patient Information on Hand Surgery complications
Please make sure you read and understand the following problems which may arise in
connection with hand and upper limb surgery. This table of complications and possible
treatment is not exhaustive. There can be other complications, which can occur on rare
Prolonged swelling – stiffness
Numbness and tenderness around surgical wound
Persistence or even deterioration of symptoms despite surgery
Tendon adhesions – limited movement
Deformity may recur
Bones may not heal (nonunion) or may heal in non-ideal position (malunion).
Over reaction of soft tissue (Reflex sympathetic dystrophy –very rare)
Nail deformities (operations near the base of the nail)
Unsightly scar (Keloid) - rare
Delayed healing - Wound breakdown
Metalwork might break and might have to be left in the bones
Tourniquet complications: skin damage, blisters etc
Antibiotics – readmission for wash out of wound in theatre – redo operation later
Admission for elevation – physiotherapy. May take months to settle and may lead to extensive scarring and permanent stiffness
Nerve repair is usually possible. Risk of permanent altered sensation in the hand.
Very rare. May lead to gangrene and eventual amputation. A vascular repair is usually possible.
Hand therapy. Usually improves but on occasions it may be permanent
Very rare. Physiotherapy / hand therapy. Referral to Pain specialist.
Hand therapy. May have to free the tendons. May be permanent.
Might have to redo operation
May have to redo operation and use bone graft.
Swelling, stiffness and pain.
Extensive physiotherapy, special medication, referral to pain clinic.
Usually improves but some symptoms may persist
May require direct repair or reconstruction
Most improve, some may be permanent
Excessive scar formation. May need hand therapy, injection or even surgery
Change of dressing for prolonged period. Readmission for wound washout
Very rare. May require skin grafting
Will settle with non-surgical treatment