Replantation of digits and hands: analysis of surgical techniques and functional results in 71 patients with 86 replantations

A J Weiland, A Villarreal-Rios, H E Kleinert, J Kutz, E Atasoy, G Lister
Journal of Hand Surgery 1977, 2 (1): 1-12
Defining replantation as the restoration of a completely amputated part as opposed to simply restoring circulation to an incompletely severed part, the results of replantation of 86 completely amputated parts in 71 patients performed from January, 1970, to December, 1975, were studied. Twenty-eight, or 32.5 percent, were the result of sharp severances of the part; localized crushing accounted for 56, or 65.1 percent. Two were classified as degloving injuries. Twelve amputations were transmetacarpal, six were at the metacarpophalangeal joints, 14 through the proximal phalanx, 15 at the proximal interphalangeal joint, 21 in the middle phalanx, 13 at the distal interphalangeal joint, and five through the distal phalanx. The technique consisted of bone shortening and fixation and repair of all tendons and nerves if possible. Veins are repaired first, at least two for each artery, and heparinized saline and lidocaine are used locally. Irrigation of the vessels is not done, but an intravenous bolus of 3,000 U. of heparin is given when the anastomoses are completed. Aspirin and low molecular weight dextran are given for 3 to 7 days. For the more distal replantation, heparin may be used. Antibiotics are given. In the total series of 86 completely amputated hand units, 52 were unsuccessful, primarly due to vascular thrombosis and usually on the venous side. In the year 1975 a success rate of 69.2 percent was achieved, whereas in the last 50 replantations, done between Jan. 1, 1976, and Oct. 15, 1976, the success rate was 90 percent. Results improved with more experience in the technique and with more careful selection of patients.

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