Medical Q&As

Syndactyly - is it correctable?

My sister recently had her first baby, premature by 10 weeks. She weighs three and a half pounds and all is well so far. However my sister has noticed that her middle and index finger seem webbed together, her index finger looking stumped. Can it be corrected?

Syndactyly is the medical term for joined fingers. It is one of the most common congenital abnormalities and occurs in approximately 1 in 2000 births. It can also affect the feet. It is quite common to find that another member of the family also has a history of syndactyly. Syndactyly can occur as an isolated abnormality or it can be part of a more complex congenital syndrome. Some children may also have additional complex deformities of the hand. However, most children simply have joined fingers and are otherwise perfectly normal. The abnormality can be corrected surgically and such surgery is usually performed during the first year of life. Early correction of the anomaly permits the normal development of hand function. It also prevents permanent deformities of the hand due to the effects of growth. Surgery involves splitting the web and may also require skin grafting because there may not be sufficient skin present to completely cover the two separated fingers. The fingers are then bandaged securely in order to keep them separated. These bandages are usually left in place for a number of weeks.