Immediate partial great toe transfer for the reconstruction of composite defects of the distal thumb

Sang-Hyun Woo, Gi-Jun Lee, Kyung-Chul Kim, Sung-Han Ha, Joo-Sung Kim
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2006, 117 (6): 1906-15

BACKGROUND: Thumb defects distal to the interphalangeal joint do not cause any disability; therefore, any consideration to reconstruct the thumb is governed by the lifestyle and cultural background of the patient. This study presents the excellent results achieved by immediate partial great toe-to-hand transfer to reconstruct acute composite defects of the distal thumb.

METHODS: Fifty-three patients with amputation or crush injury of the distal thumb who underwent partial great toe-to-hand transfer at the authors' institute over an 11-year period were reviewed. Based on the amputation level of the distal thumb, the authors classified the injuries into three groups. Operative techniques used were osteo-onychocutaneous flap with partial or whole toenail from the great toe and partial great toe transfer with arthrodesis of the interphalangeal joint. Overall results were evaluated in terms of success rate, incidence of emergency reexploration, and number and type of secondary operation. Static two-point discrimination, range of motion, pinch strength, and subjective satisfaction were also evaluated.

RESULTS: The success rate of immediate partial great toe-to-hand transfer was 100 percent. The incidence of inflammation and the reexploration rate were not significantly different from those in previously reported articles. In 35 cases where postoperative follow-up was possible, static two-point discrimination, total active range of motion, and pinch strength were generally excellent and the majority of the patients were satisfied with the final outcome.

CONCLUSION: Immediate reconstruction with partial great toe transfer is an excellent option for reconstruction of composite defects of the distal thumb, not only for aesthetic reasons but also for functional purposes.

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