EVALUATION STUDIES
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[Lengthening of the phalanges by callus distraction in traumatic amputations of the fingers].

OBJECTIVES: We evaluated the results of lengthening of the phalanges by callus distraction in traumatic amputations of the fingers.

METHODS: We treated traumatic amputations of 16 fingers of 13 male patients (mean age 27.7 years; range 12 to 43 years) by callotasis of the phalanges. Callus distraction was performed with a rate of 1 mm/day using a unilateral dynamic external fixation device. The mean follow-up period was 42 months (range 12 to 80 months).

RESULTS: The mean lengthening was 24 mm (range 18 to 26 mm) and 21 mm (range 18 to 26 mm) for the thumbs and the other fingers, respectively. The achieved thumb length provided adequate depth and width of the first web space and enabled functional improvement in the ability of gripping, and pulp-to-pulp and pulp-to-side pinching. In the absence of flexor pollicis longus, the mean strength of the thumbs was 7 kg (range 5 to 9 kg), amounting to 65% of the normal side. Lengthening of the other fingers resulted in improved functioning of the hand. The mean healing index (number of months per centimetre of lengthening) was 1.7 months/cm (range 1.6 to 2.1 months/cm) and 1.6 months/cm (range 1.4 to 1.9 months/cm) in the thumbs and the other fingers, respectively. Pin tract infections were observed in four phalanges.

CONCLUSION: Callotasis of the proximal phalanx of the thumb is an effective reconstruction method to compensate for the loss of distal phalanx and to alleviate functional problems due to shortness. It may also be applied to the phalanges of the other fingers in patients who do not accept ray resection with or without transposition.

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