Cleft Hand

What is cleft hand?

Cleft hand is a rare congenital birth defect in which the hand didn’t develop properly during fetal development. A cleft hand means that your child’s hand is missing a finger or fingers and may have other deformities, some of which can be classified by type. Clefts are always central (middle fingers) and are usually V-shaped, but they can also be on the thumb (radial) side, less commonly little (ulnar) finger side or in various combinations.

Although cleft hands usually occur on both hands (bilateral), they can also be unilateral, and can include one or both feet. All affected children, except those with very mild cases, need one or more surgeries, usually starting in their first year of life.

Clefts affect between one in 10,000 and one in 90,000 babies. An isolated cleft hand, in which there’s no associated clinical syndrome or systemic illness, accounts for fewer than 5 percent of all congenital hand conditions.

How Boston Children's cares for cleft hand

Combining training in pediatric and adolescent orthopedics, hand surgery, plastic surgery and microsurgery allows our surgeons to provide a comprehensive level of care unmatched in most other hospital settings.

Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program

The Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program provides comprehensive care involving occupational and physical therapy, splinting, casting and reconstructive surgeries for infants, children and adolescents with complex congenital, neuromuscular, sports-related oncologic and traumatic upper limb conditions.

Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program

The specialists in the Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program at Boston Children's are experts in the management of congenital and acquired hand deformities. We recognize the social elements involved in pediatric hand surgery, so an essential part of these operations has been making the child's hand as symmetrical as possible with the unaffected hand.