Replantation of finger avulsion injuries: a systematic review of survival and functional outcomes

Erika Davis Sears, Kevin C Chung
Journal of Hand Surgery 2011, 36 (4): 686-94

PURPOSE: Recent studies presenting functional outcomes after replantation of finger avulsion injuries have challenged the historical practice of performing revision amputation for all complete finger avulsion injuries. The aim of this study is to conduct a systematic review of the English literature of replantation of finger avulsion injuries to provide best evidence of survival rates and functional outcomes.

METHODS: A Medline literature search yielded 1,398 studies, using key words "traumatic amputation" or "replantation", with limitation to humans and finger injuries. Inclusion criteria required that studies meet the following requirements: (1) primary data are presented; (2) the study includes at least 5 cases with either complete or incomplete finger avulsion injuries at or distal to the metacarpophalangeal joint; (3) the study presents survival rates, total active arc of motion (TAM), or static 2-point discrimination (2PD) data; (4) data for incomplete and complete avulsions are reported separately; (5) patients are treated with microvascular revascularization or replantation. Survival rates, TAM, and 2PD data were recorded and a weighted mean of each was calculated.

RESULTS: Thirty-two studies met the inclusion criteria. Of these 32 studies, all reported survival outcomes, 13 studies reported TAM (metacarpophalangeal, proximal interphalangeal, and distal interphalangeal), and 9 studies reported sensibility. The mean survival rate for complete finger and thumb avulsions having replantation was 66% (n = 442). The mean TAM of complete finger avulsions after successful replantation was 174° (n = 75), with a large number of patients in the included studies having arthrodesis of the distal interphalangeal joint. The mean 2PD in patients after replantation was 10 mm (n = 32).

CONCLUSIONS: We found that functional outcomes of sensibility and range of motion after replantation of finger avulsion injuries are better than what is historically cited in the literature. The results of this systematic review challenge the practice of performing routine revision amputation of all complete finger avulsion injuries.

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