Toe to Hand Transfer

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Severe hand trauma can result in amputation of one or more digits. The most elegant method to reconstruct a missing digit is to use the body part that is the most similar to it, a toe. The second toe, next door to the big toe, is the one most commonly used for reconstruction. There are two indications to consider performing a toe to hand reconstruction. The first is when the amputation is beyond the middle joint of the finger and that joint has good motion. Excellent restoration of digit function can occur in this situation. The other indication is when the hand has lost so many digits that the minimum criteria of two fingers that can form a tripod pinch with the thumb does not exist.

MEDICAL HISTORY

Patients may have already a number of surgeries performed when first appearing in the reconstructive microsurgery clinic. Patients should bring the typed operative reports of these other operations to be reviewed. Important details of the anatomy left behind after the former surgeries are essential in planning the upcoming reconstruction.

EXAMINATION

The location and degree of scar tissue, freedom of joint movement, and level of amputation are closely examined along with all other functions of the affected and the opposite hand.

ADDITIONAL TESTS

If there is any question regarding the anatomy of the blood vessels left behind in the hand, it will be necessary to obtain a picture called an angiogram after injecting dye into vessels using an inserted catheter.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
  SECOND TOE TRANSFER GREAT TRANSFER
CONSISTS OF Whole or partial toe transfer Usually only partial toe transfer or combined parts with some from the second toe
FEATURES All parts needed by the finger are taken from the toe Usually used only in reconstruction of damage to the thumb
ADVANTAGES Can obtain longer transfer by taking bone from the foot level (metatarsal) Better strength, size match better (too large if not trimmed)
DISADVANTAGES For thumb reconstruction is too small and makes a weaker transfer More disturbance of walking ability proportionate to amount of tissue taken in transfer
Scroll/swipe >
RECOVERY

The small connections between blood vessels that have been sewn together can clot easily. The patient stays in the hospital for 5 days after surgery for close observation and to receive continuous anticoagulant medication by vein. After hospital discharge, outpatient rehabilitation begins with exercises for motion and control of swelling. The tendon connections must be moved frequently to avoid stiffness. Nerve regrowth is slow and the tips of the new digit do not gain feeling for many months. Forceful gripping and pinching activities are not allowed until after full bone and tendon healing occurs at around 2 months.

Houston Hand and Wrist