Conditions + Treatments

Symbrachydactyly in Children

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If your baby or child has been born with short fingers that are webbed or conjoined, a condition called symbrachydactyly, the specialists at Boston Children’s Hospital can help.

Here is some basic information about symbrachydactyly:

  • In symbrachydactyly, the fingers are abnormally short and webbed (or “conjoined”). The bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves of the hand are usually affected.
  • Symbrachydactyly is rare, occurring in only about one in 32, 000 newborns. It doesn’t run in families, and affects boys and girls equally.
  • It usually affects just one hand.
  • In symbrachydactyly, the thumb and small finger can be larger than the middle fingers, forming a u-shaped pattern of the fingers.
  • The condition can range from fairly mild to severe.
  • It can be associated with a genetic condition called Poland syndrome, which also involves underdevelopment or absence of the chest muscle on one side of the body.
  • Many forms of symbrachydactyly are treated surgically. Surgery is usually done when the child is between 6 and 18 months old. Sometimes, a series of surgeries performed over a period of years is needed.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches symbrachydactyly

You can have peace of mind knowing that the experts in our Orthopedic Center’s Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program and our Plastic and Oral Surgery Department’s Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program have treated thousands of babies and children with hand problems that range from the simple to the highly complex.

  • Our Orthopedic Center is nationally known as the preeminent center for the care of children and young adults with a wide range of developmental, congenital, neuromuscular, sports related, traumatic and post-traumatic problems of the musculoskeletal system.
  • As one of the largest pediatric plastic surgery centers in the United States, our Department of Pediatric Plastic and Oral Surgery provides comprehensive care and treatment for a wide variety of congenital and acquired conditions, including hand deformities. 

The 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.

The Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program

The specialists in the Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program at 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 his unaffected hand.

Symbrachydactyly: Reviewed by Donald S. Bae, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012

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