Incidence of Acute Complications Following Surgery for Syndactyly and Polydactyly: An Analysis of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Database from 2012 to 2014

J Hand Surg Am. 2017 Sep;42(9):749.e1-749.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2017.05.011. Epub 2017 Jun 23.


Purpose: Congenital hand differences are infrequent phenomena, and their treatment represents a relatively small fraction of cases performed by hand surgeons. Little is known about the incidence of wound complications and acute postoperative problems given the relative rarity of these procedures. This study sought to characterize the incidence of complications within 30 days of surgery for congenital hand differences.

Methods: The National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) contains prospective data regarding 30-day morbidity from 64 pediatric centers across the United States. Data from all available years (2012-2014) were queried for Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes pertinent to the treatment of congenital hand differences. Bivariate statistics, Fisher exact tests and Poisson 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were used to assess the incidence of complications and examine risk factors for these outcomes.

Results: We identified a total of 1,656 congenital hand cases that represented 4 different CPT codes, including surgery for simple syndactyly, complex syndactyly, and polydactyly. The overall incidence of complications was 2.2% (95% CI, 1.6%-3.1%; n = 37) with the most common complication being superficial surgical site infection (1.7%; 95% CI, 1.1%-2.4%) followed by related readmission (0.3%; 95% CI, 0.1%-0.7%). There was a higher incidence of complications observed in patients undergoing complex syndactyly repair (5.2% for complex syndactyly repair vs 2.3% for all others).

Conclusions: The rate of acute complications following procedures to correct syndactyly and polydactyly is low, the most common of which is superficial surgical site infection. The incidence of acute complications may be helpful in counseling patients and families. We suggest that further research must prioritize collecting data on long-term functional outcomes.

Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic II.

Keywords: Congenital; NSQIP; complications; polydactyly; syndactyly.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Fingers / abnormalities*
  • Fingers / surgery
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Polydactyly / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Syndactyly / surgery*
  • United States / epidemiology