Francisco del Piñal, M.D., Dr. Med.
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 144(3):665-677, September 2019 – Copyright © 2019 American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
ABSTRACT (full text pdf. below)
Extreme Thumb Losses: Reconstructive Strategies
Background Historically, complex amputations of the thumb have been managed in two stages and often require additional soft-tissue and tendon transfer for successful outcomes. This article provides several novel strategies to address these problems in a single stage using existing muscles, immediate free tissue transfer, and toe transfer.
Methods From a personal experience of 482 toe transfers, 24 cases to reconstruct extreme thumb losses. All thumbs were reconstructed in one stage. In only one case, the thumb was reconstructed with a second toe transfer; the remainder had a great toe (or a part of it) used for reconstruction. Suture, advancement, or tendon transfers were performed in all to restore intrinsic muscle function. In 19 cases, the web needed to be resurfaced with free (n = 18) or local (n = 1) flaps.
Results All toes and flaps survived. Three patients required a secondary adductorplasty. Six of the seven patients with a metacarpal hand were able to perform tripod pinch. The rest had an average Kapandji opposition score of 7.5. Patients rated their functional and cosmetic result with a visual analogue scale score (ranging from 0 to 10) of 8.5 and 8.4, respectively.
Conclusions In proximal thumb amputations, the surgeon should pay attention not only to the obvious thumb loss but also to the first web and the thenar muscles. The author recommends abandoning the standard approach of a pedicled groin flap followed by a toe. Otherwise, the thenar muscles become useless, the first metacarpal contracts, and the need for tendon transfers skyrockets. Further studies are required to compare the outcomes of these results to those of more classic transfers.
Clinical question/level of evidence Therapeutic, IV.