Long-term outcomes of web creep, scar quality, and function after simple syndactyly surgical treatment

J Hand Surg Am. 2010 Aug;35(8):1323-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2010.04.033. Epub 2010 Jul 16.


Purpose: Syndactyly is the second most common congenital malformation of the hand, and reports of the incidence of web creep after surgery vary. To evaluate our outcomes of simple syndactyly surgical release, we conducted a retrospective analysis of patients treated between January 1965 and December 2007.

Methods: After matching for inclusion criteria, we recruited 19 patients with 26 affected web spaces for clinical examination. Outcomes evaluation included grading of web creep, Vancouver Scar Scale, assessment of complications and subjective patient analysis, range of motion, degree of finger abduction, power, and 2-point discrimination. Mean age at follow-up was 18 years (range, 6-50 y), with a mean age of 4.4 years (range, 7 mo to 15 y) at surgery and mean follow-up of 11.5 years (range, 5-35 y). Surgical management consisted of palmar and dorsal triangular skin flaps for creation of the new commissure, and multiple zigzag incisions for separation of digits. For tension-free closure, full-thickness skin grafts were harvested as needed.

Results: We observed web creep up to the proximal third of the distance between palmar metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joint crease in 2 web spaces. All other web spaces had either a soft web equivalent to the contralateral (unaffected) side (n = 13) or no web advancement with thickening of the interdigital space (n = 11). The scar quality as assessed with the Vancouver Scar Scale revealed a height below 2 mm in 24 of 26 web spaces, with close to normal to supple pliability in 20 of 26 web spaces. There were no considerable differences for range of motion, degree of finger abduction, power, or 2-point discrimination between the affected and unaffected sides. In 17 of 24 cases in which full-thickness skin grafts from the groin region were used, patients reported commissural hair growth in the grafted region.

Conclusions: Evaluation of the long-term outcomes of surgical treatment for simple syndactyly at our institution demonstrated a low incidence of web creep. When choosing the groin as a donor area for full thickness skin grafts, we recommend harvesting from the lateral third of the inguinal crease, to avoid esthetic compromise associated with the beginning of hair growth in puberty.

Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cicatrix / pathology*
  • Female
  • Fingers / abnormalities*
  • Fingers / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Surgical Flaps
  • Syndactyly / physiopathology
  • Syndactyly / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome