What is clinodactyly?

Clinodactyly means that your child has an abnormally bent or curved finger. It is typically caused by abnormal growth and development of the small bones of the finger. It is estimated to affect about 10 percent of the general population to varying degrees.

In many cases, your child’s growth plate in the hand may be an abnormal shape or have an abnormal orientation. Rather than grow perpendicular to the axis of the finger, therefore, these bones may change the direction they grow in, resulting in trapezoidal or triangular shaped bones. This can cause a shift in the alignment of the finger joints as well.

Clinodactyly can be an inherited condition and may present as a part of an associated syndrome. A significant percentage of people with Down syndrome, for example, have clinodactyly.

The exact incidence of this condition is unknown, in part because there is no precise definition of what level of curvature is normal and abnormal. It tends to be present more commonly in boys and usually affects the small finger; it is unusual to have it on both hands.

How is clinodactyly diagnosed?

Clinodactyly is diagnosed by your child’s doctor after a thorough medical history and careful physical examination. X-rays are also used to confirm the diagnosis.

How is clinodactyly treated?

Mild finger curvature rarely causes pain or functional problems. For these reasons, surgery is not typically recommended for children with mild curvature and no functional problems. Because abnormalities in the growth plate often contribute to clinodactyly, it is important for affected children to be monitored throughout growth and checked for progressive changes. If your child's finger curvature increases rapidly, or if it progresses to the point where it interferes with her hand function, your child's doctor may recommend surgery.

Surgical procedures typically involve making a cut in the bone, correcting the deformity and stabilizing the finger until the bone and soft tissue are healed. While surgery is usually successful in correcting the curvature, there is a risk for recurrence and need for future surgery.

How we care for clinodactyly

The Orthopedic Center’s Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program and our Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery’s Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program have treated thousands of babies and children with clinodactyly and other hand problems. We are experienced treating conditions that range from routine to highly complex, and can provide your child with expert diagnosis, treatment, and care. We also offer the benefits of some of the most advanced clinical and scientific research in the world.

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.

Our Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery is one of the largest and most experienced pediatric plastic and oral surgery centers anywhere in the world. We provide comprehensive care and treatment for a wide variety of congenital and acquired conditions, including hand deformities.