Fractures of the Wrist Requiring Surgery: What to expect during your hospital stay.

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-164/2018
  • Departments: Orthopaedics
  • Last Updated: 22 October 2018


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your admission to hospital for surgery.  Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor or nurse but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is a fracture of the wrist?

A fracture is either a partial or complete break through a bone. The wrist consists of two bones, the radius and ulna. You will hear different names used to describe your fracture depending on the type of injury. For example a colles fracture or a distal radius fracture would be described as a fractured wrist. It is normally diagnosed with examination and X-rays. Frequently in displaced fractures, a manipulation is carried out in the Emergency Department.

Why do I need an operation?

A fracture to the wrist will cause pain, swelling and discomfort. The severity and location of your fracture may affect the way in which you can use your hand and arm in everyday life. If a fracture heals in a bad position, it may cause deformity and loss of function in that area. Surgery may be required to repair the bone in a better position and limit these risks. Alternatively, the fracture may be treated in a plaster, although in significantly displaced fractures there may be resultant deformity and possibly loss of function.

Can there be any complications or risks?

As with any surgery there is a risk of complications. These risks are small but include:

  •  the risk of residual weakness/ reduced function
  •  the risk of bleeding
  •  infection
  •  the risk of the bones not healing properly
  •  risk of nerve damage
  •  risk of tendon injury
  •  chronic regional pain syndrome

These risks will be discussed with you throughout your stay and before you are asked to sign your consent form for your operation. There are risks of undergoing an anaesthetic but these will be discussed with you by your anaethetist.

How do I prepare for my operation?

Please read the information leaflet. Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this operation.

In order to have an operation you are required not to eat anything for at least six hours before your operation. This includes chewing gum. You can drink clear fluids (water or black tea without sugar) up to two hours before your operation. After this time, you must eat or drink nothing, unless advised to by the nurse caring for you.

If you take regular medication, you will be advised by the nurses caring for you whether or not these medications can be taken as normal before surgery.

The Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust operates a no smoking policy in and around hospital grounds. We strongly recommend that you adhere to this because smoking can cause nausea and vomiting after surgery and prolong your hospital stay. Smoking is also known to delay bone healing.

What will happen?

You will be admitted from the Fracture Clinic or the Emergency Department to a specified ward, if you have a theatre day and time. If this is not the case, you will be assessed by a doctor or nurse and sent home. The trauma coordinator will contact you when you have a date for surgery and advise you when you need to come into hospital to be admitted. At this point, you will be advised whether or not you can eat and drink prior to your admission and which ward you will be admitted on to.

On the day of your admission you need to report to the nurses’ station where you will be shown to your bed and the location of the ward facilities will be explained.

Your surgery may or may not require an overnight stay, but we suggest you bring with you:

  •  any medication you are currently taking
  •  toiletries
  •  nightwear and slippers

As stated earlier, the anaethetist will discuss with you the type of anaesthetic being used and what it involves. At this point, you will be given the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any concerns regarding the anaesthetic.

Your operation will be performed in the Orthopaedic Theatre on the third floor of Hull Royal Infirmary by one of our experienced orthopaedic surgeons.

After you operation, it is normal to experience some pain, however our experienced staff will be able to control your pain with the use of appropriate medications.

What happens afterwards?

After the operation you will go to the recovery suite for a period of time to ensure that you have recovered from the anaesthetic. Following your recovery, you will be transferred back to the ward. It is normal to feel tired after an anaesthetic and it is advisable to remain in bed and rest until the effects have worn off fully.

The type of surgery you have had will affect your length of stay, but it would be expected that you will be able to go home within 24 – 48 hours of your operation unless further treatment is required.

Once the healthcare team is happy that you are recovered fully and that there are no complications, you will be discharged home. Before discharge, you will be advised on any exercises that you may need to do and how to care for your plaster. Once home you will be sent an appointment to attend the Fracture Clinic for follow-up care.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please contact Tel No: (01482) 674960 (Mon-Fri 08.00- 16.00hrs) Or (01482) 675009/675090 weekend and after 16.00hrs

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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