To Tie or Not to Tie: A Systematic Review of Postaxial Polydactyly and Outcomes of Suture Ligation Versus Surgical Excision

Hand (N Y). 2020 May;15(3):303-310. doi: 10.1177/1558944718810885. Epub 2018 Nov 12.


Background: Ulnar polydactyly is frequently encountered in the newborn nursery and is commonly treated with bedside suture ligation. However, growing concern about the complications associated with suture ligation has led some practitioners to advocate for primary surgical excision instead. Thus, we set out to compare outcomes of suture ligation and surgical excision by systematic appraisal of the literature. Methods: Following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, a systematic review was performed to identify studies published between 1950 and 2017 that described outcomes of suture ligation, surgical excision, or both. Baseline characteristics, complications, and study quality were extracted for each included article. Results: A total of 900 articles were reviewed, of which 10 studies (8 case series, 2 comparative analyses) met the inclusion criteria. There was considerable heterogeneity among the studies with respect to patient characteristics and reported outcomes. There were 2 retrospective case series of suture ligation that reported no acute complications and a variable proportion of patients with residual remnants or neuromas. Studies evaluating surgical ligation reported no acute or long-term complications, with only 1 case series reporting a small percentage of residual remnants. However, in the largest cohort analysis, the difference in complication rate was reported to be as high as 23.5% for suture ligation compared with 3% for surgical excision. Conclusions: There is a paucity of literature limiting the comparison of suture ligation and surgical excision for ulnar polydactyly. Further studies are required to determine the optimal treatment.

Keywords: congenital hand; polydactyly; postaxial polydactyly; surgical excision; suture ligation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Polydactyly*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sutures
  • Toes