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J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2012 Oct;37(8):738-44. doi: 10.1177/1753193411432677. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Reconstruction of hypoplastic thumb using hemi-longitudinal metatarsal transfer.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong SAR.


The treatment of hypoplastic thumb (modified Blauth's type IIIb and IV) by pollicization is culturally unfavourable in the Chinese population and digit preservation is preferred. An innovative reconstruction method using a nonvascularized hemi-longitudinal metatarsal graft was performed in six cases with an average follow-up of 87.7 months. Overall hand function was good, as assessed using the Jebsen hand function test. Grip strength and pinch power were significantly weaker than the normal contralateral hand. There was no neurovascular or wound complication. The only donor site complication was a metatarsal fracture, which healed uneventfully with casting. There had been no permanent morbidity to the donor site, as all donor metatarsals hypertrophied and regained normal growth potentials. Linear growth of the transferred metatarsals was evident radiologically (average 1.5 mm/year). Free hemi-longitudinal metatarsal transfer is a feasible method with good functional outcome in the attainment of a 5-digit hand in patients with type IIIb/IV hypoplastic thumb.

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