Amniotic Band Syndrome

What is amniotic band syndrome?

Amniotic band syndrome occurs when fibrous bands of the amniotic sac (the lining inside the uterus that contains a fetus) become entangled around a developing fetus. In some cases, the bands wrap around the fetus's head or umbilical cord. More commonly though, the bands wrap around a limb, fingers, or toes, creating severe constrictions. It’s similar to what happens when you wrap a rubber band around your arm or leg.


Amniotic syndrome is also known as:

  • ADAM Complex
  • amniotic band sequence
  • amniotic disruption complex
  • amniochorionic mesoblastic fibrous strings
  • congenital amputation
  • constriction ring syndrome
  • vongenital constricting bands
  • streeter bands
  • tissue bands

What causes amniotic band syndrome?

The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown, but it’s not believed to be hereditary. Many times, it seems to occur for no apparent reason. Amniotic band syndrome occurs in about 1 in every 10,000 to 15,000 babies. Researchers think it occurs more frequently in the fingers than in the toes.

What are the symptoms of amniotic band syndrome?

Amniotic band syndrome sometimes results in nothing more than an unsightly, circular indentation around your child’s finger or limb.

Deeper bands can cause some more serious problems:

  • severe swelling
  • restriction of the lymphatic or venous flow
  • interference with development of the arm or leg

If a band is tight enough, the constriction may even cause an in utero (before birth) amputation of the arm or the leg.

How Boston Children's Hospital cares for amniotic band syndrome

With our training in pediatric and adolescent orthopedics, hand surgery, plastic surgery, and microsurgery, our surgeons are able 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 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.