Factors Causing Prolonged Postoperative Symptoms Despite Absence of Complications After A1 Pulley Release for Trigger Finger

J Hand Surg Am. 2019 Apr;44(4):338.e1-338.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2018.06.023. Epub 2018 Jul 25.


Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the incidence and prognostic factors for prolonged postoperative symptoms after open A1 pulley release in patients with trigger finger, despite absence of any complications.

Methods: We reviewed 109 patients (78 single-finger involvement, 31 multiple-finger involvement) who underwent open A1 pulley release for trigger finger from 2010 to 2016, with 8 weeks or longer postsurgical follow-up and without postoperative complications. The group had 16 men and 93 women, with mean age of 56 years (range, 21-81 years), and average follow-up period of 24.8 weeks (range, 8.0-127.4 weeks). Prolonged postoperative symptoms were defined as symptoms persisting for longer than 8 weeks after surgery. Factors analyzed for delay in recovery included duration of preoperative symptoms; number of preoperative local corticosteroid injections; preoperative flexion contracture of proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint; multiplicity of trigger finger lesions; occupation; presence of type 2 diabetes mellitus, other hand disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, de Quervain disease, or Dupuytren contracture; and fraying or partial tear of the flexor tendon.

Results: Twenty-six fingers (19.3%) showed prolonged postoperative symptoms, with mean time until complete relief being 14.0 ± 6.4 weeks (range, 9-34 weeks). Risk factors associated with prolonged postoperative symptoms included duration of preoperative symptoms, preoperative flexion contracture of the PIP joint, and fraying or partial tear of the flexor tendon.

Conclusions: Physicians should consider the duration of preoperative symptoms and preoperative flexion contracture of the PIP joint when deciding timing of surgery for trigger finger patients. In addition, they should explain to patients with a positive history of these factors and in whom flexor tendon injury is found during surgery about the possibility of prolonged postoperative symptoms.

Type of study/level of evidence: Prognostic IV.

Keywords: Trigger finger; open A1 pulley release; prolonged postoperative symptoms; risk factor.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Contracture / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Female
  • Finger Joint / physiopathology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tendon Injuries / complications
  • Time Factors
  • Trigger Finger Disorder / surgery*
  • Young Adult