WHAT ARE CONGENITAL HAND DEFECTS?
Congenital anomalies are deformities present at birth. Any deformity in a newborn can become a challenge for the child as he or she grows. Hand deformities can particularly be disabling, as the child learns to interact with the environment using hands. The degree of any deformity present varies from a minor deformity, such as a digital disproportion which is a defect in finger size which shows the difference from one finger to another, to a severe deformity, such as total absence of the bone.
Early consultation with a surgeon is an important part of the treatment process for a child born with a hand deformity. Even if reconstructive surgery is ruled out, many prosthetic devices can be used to increase function.
The most common congenital defect seen syndactyly, which involves two or more fingers fused together. A surgical correction involves cutting the tissue that connects these conjoined fingers and grafting skin from another part of the body. The procedure is complicated if bones are also attached.
TYPES OF DEFECTS:
1. Congenital amputation: Amputation or cutting of arm.
2. Cleft hand: The centre of the hand is either deformed or absent.
3. Syndactyly: Fingers are fused together.
4. Hypoplasia: Underdeveloped bones of hand and forearm
5. Polydactyly: Extra fingers.
6. Undergrowth of digits: Underdeveloped fingers or thumbs can be associated with most congenital hand deformities. Surgical treatment may not always be required. Underdeveloped fingers may include the following:
- The digit is small
- Muscles are missing
- Bones are missing or weak
7. Overgrowth of digits: Overgrowth of digits is also called macrodactyly. In such cases, the hand and the forearm may also be involved. In this rare condition, the entire finger or thumb are affected; however, in most cases, only one digit is affected (usually the index finger). Surgical treatment for this condition is complex, and the results may be up to the patient’s expectations. Amputation of the enlarged digit is recommended.
If your child is functioning well and is happy, treatment is not always necessary. The way your child does things may look different from the way you do them, but that does not mean it is wrong or should be changed.
It is important to remember that not all options are possible or necessary for every child. Different children with the same diagnosis will not necessarily have the same treatment. All factors of a child’s life are considered when deciding what to do. Often the child is the one who makes the decisions. Observe how your child grasps things and how they overall use their hands. Depending on the hand anatomy, your doctor may suggest surgical or therapeutic solutions.