Professor Chris Bainbridge (centre) and the Pulvertaft Hand Centre Research Team

Patients with osteoarthritis of the thumb joint are benefiting from a life-changing surgical procedure currently being trialled at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton.

UHDB is the UK’s lead centre for the procedure, which helps combat the problems associated with arthritis by inserting a synthetic cartilage implant at the base of the thumb.

Patients can go home on the same day following the operation, with the minimally invasive procedure reducing patients’ pain, improving hand function and increasing strength of the affected thumb.

The Cartiva implant used in the GRIP 2 clinical study acts like a cushion on the thumb joint and mimics the properties of natural cartilage; therefore providing an alternative to the traditional surgical treatment of taking bone from the joint.

Thumb arthritis is the second most common form of osteoarthritis that affects the upper limb and occurs when the cushioning cartilage wears away from the adjoining ends of the bones that form the joint.

UHDB Consultant Hand Surgeon Professor Chris Bainbridge, who is leading the trial at the Pulvertaft Hand Centre at the Royal Derby Hospital, said: “We are exceptionally proud as a Trust to have been selected as one of the four chosen sites to carry out this ground breaking trial. The minimally invasive procedure takes less than an hour to complete, with patients able to access this service as an outpatient. Crucially, by inserting the synthetic implant, we are also able to avoid removal of bone at the base of the thumb, so as to maintain natural strength in the thumb. Initial findings from the use of the implant have shown significant improvements in pain relief, hand function and strength outcomes, so we are extremely excited to expand this trial further.”

UHDB is one of just four Trusts in the UK taking part in the trial. Patients can be referred to access this service by their GP and will then have to undergo a medical examination to verify that they are eligible to receive this treatment.

Suitable patients are now being sought to take part in the trial. For more information, contact the Pulvertaft Hand Centre Research Team on 01332 789874.