Aggressive paediatric camptodactyly: The evolution of a proposed treatment algorithm

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2022 Jun;75(6):1907-1915. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2022.01.020. Epub 2022 Jan 22.


Introduction: It is a long-established teaching to avoid operating on camptodactyly unless there is a failure of non-operative treatment, such as serial splinting and hand therapy, and there is an established proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPJ) contracture of 60°; a recent systematic review reflects this continuing approach, with some papers advocating intervention with a lesser degree of contracture.

Aim: To evaluate whether early flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) release, followed by gentle passive manipulation (GPM), will correct severe 'congenital' camptodactyly, if undertaken at an earlier age than usual, thus avoiding the more aggressive surgical approach required in the established adolescent cases.

Method: The surgical technique and treatment algorithm are described. A multi-centre case series is presented; data analysis included patient demographics, syndromic association, side/digit affected, ages at onset, progression, referral and at surgery, operation details, pre- and post-operative contracture and range of motion.

Results: There were 12 patients (3 males, 9 females) who underwent 15 operations for 24 involved digits. Patients had surgery by 3 months (median) post-referral, and there was a significant improvement in median (range) PIPJ contracture (90°(30°-90°) vs. 0°(0°-45°); p<0.001) and range of motion (0°(0°-60°) vs. 90°(50°-95°); p<0.001), at a median post-operative follow-up of 2.5 years. According to the Siegert grade, 87.5% of digits had excellent/good post-operative outcomes and 12.5% had fair outcomes.

Conclusion: This paper specifically addresses the problem of aggressive and progressive camptodactyly in the young child. By this, we mean patients who have failed non-operative treatment and have PIPJ contractures ≥60°, and those whose contractures have increased by 30° within 1 year. All cases responded to early FDS release and GPM, hence correcting the PIPJ contracture. However, cases with multiple digital involvement, whether syndromic or not, and failed previous surgery or the older child, required additional procedures to restore a dynamic dorsal apparatus and active extension.

Keywords: Camptodactyly; Congenital; Contracture; Finger; Flexion deformity; Joint.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms
  • Child
  • Contracture* / surgery
  • Female
  • Finger Joint* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Range of Motion, Articular