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Chir Main. 2003 Oct;22(5):243-5.

[Hand surgery training].

[Article in French]

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SOS main Grenoble, hôpital A.-Michallon, CHU de Grenoble, 38043 Grenoble, France.


Training of the hand surgeon HAND SURGEON A CONCEPT: The hand surgeon is supposed to be in charge of all the hand lesions regarding, skeleton, muscles, tendons, nerves and vessels. He has to be able to insure reparation and coverage of all of them. So he is involved in all the structures, which insure integrity and function of the hand.


To obtain the asked ability, the hand surgeon training has to be global and sustained by two underlying surgical specialities: orthopedic surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery. From 2000 after many years of dealings, a Right to the Title in Hand Surgery was born. This Right to the Title wants to be the formal recognition of the specific training of the hand surgeon. For the well-recognized ancient hand surgeons they need to be confirmed by one's peers. Now a day the hand surgeon has to satisfy to this specific training: Passed the complete training and exam of the Orthopedic or Plastic surgery board. Spent at least 6 months as resident in the other underlying specialty. Passed a microsurgery examination. Passed one of the four national Hand Surgery diplomas (DIU/Inter-Universitary Diploma). The examinations have been harmonized. A common formation is delivered regarding hand surgery, the way of examination is the same and the formation is 2 years long. The final exam is presented in front of board of examiners where a teacher of one of the other three national diplomas is present. Spent at least 2 years in a formative hand surgery unit, listed by the French College of Hand Surgeons, as senior surgeon. Those requirements are heavy to assume and need a heavy personal involvement. That seems to be necessary to have an ability level as high as possible. Emergency surgery practice is absolutely necessary in this training. All the 17 university formative hand surgery units listed by the French College of Hand Surgeons are members of the FESUM (European Federation of the Emergency Hand Units). Unfortunately it is non-sufficient to train the necessary number of hand surgeons needed in France today. So we try to obtain from the authority the formal recognition of a training period in private practice. Eleven out of the 28 hand units listed as formative by the French College of Hand Surgeons are in private practice and may be recognized as formative in the hand surgeon training. That needs to create an official agreement between university and private Units. This part of the training is yet accepted by the Right to the Title commission for a 6-month training period. But this needs a legal modification or adaptation of the private units legal status so they will be able to offer a quite equivalent conditions of training. Now a days 233 surgeons in France passed the Right to the Title. Among them, the oldest do not have emergency practice any more. So unfortunately, out of 1,400,000 hand injuries a year in France, only few are actually cared by hand surgeons. The emergency training needs at least a three to four senior surgeons team, operating and caring emergencies, 24 h a day, 365 days a year. They need to be surrounded by high-level technical facilities for this type of surgery. Only this type of unit may have a frequent severe hand traumatology practice, especially regarding microsurgery. But on the other hand a less complex hand unit operating only planed surgery and less complicated emergencies, may also be definitively formative. This only depends on the hand surgeon's qualification. It is only with a very demanding and high-level training program that our credibility as hand surgeon may be definitively established. The mainstay of this training is the combined action of the FESUM, the French College of Hand Surgeons and the DIU diploma. The Right to the Title formally confirms that training. For university or private unit, to be a member of the FESUM, must continue to guarantee a high level training regarding emergencies as in number as in complexity. We proposed as minimum level of practice (a year) to be a formative hand surgery unit: 10-15 hand and upper limb replantations; 25-30 very severe hand injuries (revascularization etc.); at least 1000-1500 hand surgery procedures.

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