Immediate Great Toe Transfer for Thumb Reconstruction After Tumor Resection: Report of 3 Cases

Rudy Kovachevich, Jennifer L Giuffre, Alexander Y Shin, Allen T Bishop
Annals of Plastic Surgery 2016, 76 (3): 280-4

BACKGROUND: Modern oncologic surgery aims not only to obtain tumor-free margins but also to spare or reconstruct limb function and preserve quality of life. A negative tumor margin in the digit generally requires amputation; therefore, function is preserved with reconstruction. We report results of simultaneous ablative tumor resection and reconstruction with a great toe transfer in patients requiring surgery for aggressive benign and malignant thumb tumors.

METHODS: Between 2000 and 2009, three patients with extensive soft tissue tumors of the distal thumb underwent amputation to obtain wide negative surgical margins. In each case, an immediate trimmed toe-to-thumb transfer was performed. Results, evaluated retrospectively, included a review of perioperative complications, donor-site morbidity, oncologic status, objective functional outcomes, and subjective patient satisfaction.

RESULTS: Three patients were found with either locally aggressive benign (n = 1) or malignant (n = 2) tumors of the thumb. All patients underwent immediate reconstruction after amputation through the base of the proximal phalanx for tumor eradication. No perioperative complications were encountered, and all toes survived. Full thumb opposition and protective sensation were achieved in all patients. All patients returned to their previous occupation without functional limitations. There is no local or distant tumor recurrence. Delayed wound healing at the ipsilateral foot donor site occurred in all 3 patients. Wet-to-dry dressing changes were successful in 2 patients, whereas the third patient required full-thickness skin grafting. All patients were satisfied with their reconstruction.

CONCLUSIONS: An immediate great toe-to-thumb transfer should be considered when thumb amputation is required to satisfy adequate oncologic margins. Such a transfer provides simultaneous restoration of digit length, position, sensation, and acceptable esthetics. This procedure is technically demanding and requires an experienced microsurgical team as well as appropriate patient counseling and consent before surgery.

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