What is symbrachydactyly?
It is a congenital hand disorder characterised by abnormally short fingers that are sometimes webbed and fused. Most children have a thumb that is essentially normal but their remaining fingers are short, stiff and sometimes conjoined. In the most severe cases, all fingers are missing and replaced by little ‘nubbins’ of skin.
What causes symbrachydactyly?
During normal embryonic development in the womb, the hand initially forms in the shape of a paddle, and then eventually splits into separate fingers. Symbrachydactyly occurs when one or more fingers fail to form properly during this period.
How common is symbrachydactyly?
Symbrachydactyly occurs in about 1 out of every 32,000 babies.
How is symbrachydactyly diagnosed?
Through a thorough medical history and careful physical examination. X-rays are used to confirm the diagnosis and to check for problems affecting the underlying bones
How is symbrachydactyly treated?
In some cases, no surgery or only minor skin and soft-tissue adjustments are required. In severe cases you and your child may be offered a procedure where bones are transferred to their hands, often taken from the toes to add length to the affected fingers. These procedures are usually performed when your child is between 6 and 18 months old. In some cases, a toe or multiple toes are transplanted to the affected hand to give more function.
What’s my child’s long-term outlook?
Long-term follow-up is required to ensure that healing is going well and function is as good as it can be. Your surgical team may organise for your child to see a specialist hand therapists who will help reduce scarring, swelling and stiffness and improve strength. The team will continue to follow-up your child as they grow to ensure that they are adapting and functioning well.