The choice of procedure following thumb amputation

G Lister
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 1985, (195): 45-51
The attributes that make the thumb unique are position, stability, strength, length, motion, sensibility, and appearance. Of these qualities, the first four must be present to an acceptable extent for function to approach normality, while the latter three are very desirable but not essential. Reconstructive alternatives following amputation can be considered in four broad groups: where the length is acceptable but the covering is poor; subtotal amputation, where length is equivocal; total amputation with the basal joint preserved; and total amputation with the basal joint destroyed. In the first group, soft-tissue cover can be improved by local flaps with or without a neurovascular pedicle or by microvascular free pulp transfer. In the second group, metacarpal lengthening by distraction, with or without phalangization, may give adequate length. In total amputations, one may choose osteoplastic reconstruction, pollicization, or toe-to-hand transfer. Which solution is selected depends on the level of the amputation, the presence and nature of injuries to other digits, occupational and social factors, and the availability of tissues.

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