Syndactyly

Syndactyly is a term used to describe webbed or conjoined fingers. Incomplete syndactyly refers to webbing or connection between adjacent digits that involves only part of the affected fingers. Complete syndactyly refers to fingers that are joined all the way out to the fingertip. Simple syndactyly refers to fingers that are joined by skin and soft tissue only. Complex syndactyly refers to fingers in which the underlying bones are also joined together.

Syndactyly is thought to be the most common congenital hand difference, occurring in approximately one out of every 2,500 live births. It tends to occur in males more than females and in Caucasians more than people of African or Asian descent. The third web space (between the middle and ring fingers) is most commonly involved.

The Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers a full range of surgical procedures for syndactyly. Surgeons use leading-edge technology and world-class surgical techniques.

Treatment

Syndactyly is treated by surgically separating the joined digits. In most cases, a skin graft taken from the same arm or groin is required to provide adequate skin coverage of the newly separated digits. Fingers of different length are separated first to allow for normal growth and prevent deformity. These procedures are typically performed between the sixth and eighteenth month of life.

In general, only one side of a finger is separated at a time in order to avoid complications related to the blood supply of the affected digit. For this reason, patients with multiple fingers involved will often require more than one surgical procedure. In rare instances involving minimal functional or cosmetic problems, surgery may not be required.