What is Polydactyly?
Polydactyly is a condition when a child is born with more than five fingers on each hand. Usually there is only one extra digit, but rarely there can be multiple extra digits. The extra digit may be on the thumb or pinky side of the hand, or less commonly can be in the middle of the hand. The extra digit may be fully formed with a bone structure, or it can be rudimentary without bone and look more like a skin tag.
What Causes Polydactyly?
Polydactyly results from an abnormality in development of the hand in the womb. It can be hereditary and run in families, particularly when the extra digit is on the pinky side of the hand in African American families. Other times it is sporadic meaning only one person in the family has this particular trait of polydactyly and will not likely be passed on to their children. Rarely polydactyly can be associated with an underlying syndrome.
What are the Treatment Options?
Most parents request removal of the extra digit, though some parents request that the extra digit remain. Some families take pride in the fact that many of the family members have an extra digit and see it as a sign that they belong to their family. The extra digit can sometimes interfere with the function of the hand, particularly if the extra digit is on the thumb side of the hand. The extra digit can sometimes cause the neighboring digit to angulate to one side as the hand grows. In these cases where the extra digit affects the function or growth of the hand it is wise to remove the extra digit. If the extra digit is simply a small rudimentary digit on the pinky side of the hand, it can often be removed without surgery by tying a suture around it, and then later cutting it off once the blood supply has been disrupted. With this method, however, often a small bump will remain where the finger once was. Fore more fully formed digits surgery is required to safely remove the digit and reconstruct the neighboring digit to give optimal function and appearance to the hand. Surgery is done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. The recovery period ranges from 2-3 weeks for a simple excision to 6-12 weeks for a more complex reconstruction.
If your child has signs or symptoms of polydactyly in the hand feel free to call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our fellowship trained Orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgeons. We specialize in non-surgical and surgical treatment of hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder conditions in children and adults.