Symbrachydactyly Symptoms & Causes

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At Boston Children’s Hospital, our Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program an and Department of Pediatric Plastic and Oral Surgery have developed innovative surgical treatments for children with all variations of symbrachydactyly. 

What is symbrachydactyly?

Symbrachydactyly isa congenital (present at birth) condition in which the fingers are abnormally short and webbed or conjoined. The roots of the word are from the Greek: “syn/sym” (joined); “brachy” (short); “dactyl” (finger, digit). 

Are there different forms and levels of severity with symbrachydactyly?

Yes. The three main levels of severity are:

•   The thumb is essentially normal, but the remaining fingers are short and stiff and can be webbed (least severe)
•   Only the thumb or the thumb and little finger are present (moderately severe)
•   All the fingers are missing; small skin stumps are located where fingers should have developed (most severe)

How common is symbrachydactyly?

Symbrachydactyly is a rare congenital hand defect, affecting about one out of every 32,000 babies. In most cases, it affects only one hand. 

Will my child be OK?

While the hand will always look and work differently, after surgery most of our patients can use it in their daily activities. 

Young children readily learn to adapt. Later in childhood, your child may be able to use a prosthesis for some sports and other activities.. It’s also possible that he may need additional surgery to improve the hand’s function and appearance.

Causes

Most cases of symbrachydactyly happen for no known reason and without any other abnormalities in the child. It isn’t thought to be inherited.

In some cases, symbrachydactyly is an accompanying defect in a genetic syndrome called Poland syndrome, in which there is underdevelopment of the chest muscle on one side of the body.

Signs and symptoms

•   Symbrachydactyly is visible at, or shortly after, birth (sometimes it is seen on ultrasound before birth).
•   Your child’s fingers will be short and webbed.
•   In severe cases, your child’s fingers will be small stumps of skin and soft tissue. Because of these differences,
    your child may have trouble using his affected hand.

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