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What is Syndactyly?

Syndactyly is a congenital or birth defect of the hand characterized by the fusion or webbing of two or more fingers. It may affect one or both hands and usually involves joining of ring and middle fingers. The fused fingers may appear as a single digit or with a web of tissue between them.

Types of Syndactyly

There are three types of syndactyly:

  • Simple: The fingers are joined by a web of skin and soft tissue
  • Complex: There is bony union of the two fingers
  • Complicated: There is abnormal bone, tendon or ligament growth.

Causes of Syndactyly

The defect occurs during the sixth to eight week of pregnancy when the child’s hand is developing but the fingers fail to separate. The condition is found to run in families and may be inherited from the parents. It is sometimes part of a syndrome such as Apert syndrome or Poland syndrome.

Diagnosis of Syndactyly

Syndactyly is mostly identified at birth though it may also be noticed on prenatal ultrasound scanning. To evaluate the condition, your doctor will perform X-rays of your child’s affected hand.

Treatment of Syndactyly

Your child will require surgery to separate the webbed or fused fingers. The procedure is usually performed at 1-2 years of age. The procedure involves cutting the skin and underlying tissues to evenly separate the fingers and correct any underlying abnormality. Skin grafting may be necessary to cover tissue defects. These grafts are usually obtained from the crease of the elbow or wrist. More than one procedure may be necessary if multiple fingers are fused.

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