Ikeme, 26, was partly at fault for a bizarre own goal which handed relegation rivals Bristol City a first-half advantage in Saturday's crunch clash at Molineux, allowing David Davis' difficult overhit back pass to squirm under his foot and into the net.
The stopper, who has been one of Wanderers' most reliable performers during a dreadful Championship campaign, subsequently received a half-time blast from Saunders and punched the board out of frustration.
Ikeme was unable to continue and was replaced at the break by Dorus De Vries, with Saunders insisting post-match, following a 2-1 win, that the player had injured his hand on the pitch. But with speculation aplenty, Saunders has admitted what actually happened with Ikeme having undergone an operation which could rule him out for the rest of the season.
"After the game I didn't know he had broken his hand," said the Welshman. "I have tried to protect Carl and the club and keep everything that went on in the dressing room within the dressing room.
"I am forever rollicking the players and what is said in the dressing room doesn't normally come out of there. I just tried to protect Carl after the game because with the situation we were in it wasn't something I wanted to talk about.
"I wanted to protect Carl and protect what goes on inside the dressing room but now it has all come out I have a responsibility to let the supporters know why he's not available to play.
"Carl was frustrated at making his mistake and has punched the tactics board which is only cardboard but there is a metal bar at the back of it which has damaged his hand. He has not meant to break his hand. Kevin Doyle kicked the corner flag after scoring his goal and he could have ended up breaking his foot!"
With Wayne Hennessey (knee) already sidelined, Wolves are now set to recall Aaron McCarey from his loan spell at Walsall as back-up for De Vries.
Saunders, however, has further injury problems as Ikeme's injury came after he had already lost star winger Bakary Sako (hamstring) and midfielder Dave Edwards (metatarsal) at the weekend, both of whom are now facing six weeks or more on the sidelines.