Syndactyly

Syndactyly, or webbing of the phalanges is not caused by the fingers sticking together in the womb. “It is caused by failure, during the sixth to eighth weeks of intrauterine life, of the usual longitudinal interdigital necrosis that normally separates the fingers” (Adrian E. Flatt, 2005). “Webbing” is the most common abnormality of the newborn hands. Syndactyly happens as an isolated anomaly or part of a syndrome. There are five types of recognized Syndactyly. Type one, which is classified as the most common form, and occurs between the long and ring fingers. Type two, which also includes the ring and long fingers but includes a duplication of the ring finger. Type three, is usually bilateral and the distal phalanges are occasionally fused. Type four, is a rare type where there is syndactyly in all digits. Lastly, Type five, where both long and ring fingers are fused. While this occurrence is rarely consistent from one generation to the next, those with syndactyly future children have a fifty percent chance of having this anomaly. Studies show that paternal genes have a stronger influence than their maternal counterparts. “Syndactyly is thought to occur about once in every 2000 to 2500 births and is twice as common in males” (Adrian E. Flatt, 2005). Sporadic cases are more frequent, even though, this unimportant anomaly is inherited as a dominant trait. More than fifty percent of all webbing occurs between the ring and long fingers. Simple syndactyly is when the web contains only normal soft tissues and as complex when adjacent phalanges are fused or there is interposition of accessory phalanges. While webbed fingers are an obvious defect, some individuals go through life without ever having separation of syndactyly. The more fingers that are affected, the more difficult function may be. The only correction for syndactyly is surgery. “Parents are frequently subjected to social pressure urging early separation, but this is not necessarily in their child’s best interest” (Adrian E. Flatt, 2005). Some reconstructive surgeries require skin grafts because there is not enough skin between the fingers, which can lead to syndactyly reforming. According to University of Iowa Hospitals between 1946 and 1960 more postoperative complications and less satisfactory results were obtained in children who were operated on when younger than eighteen months. “The functional demands of the hand will allow postponement of surgery” (Adrian E. Flatt, 2005). Syndactyly between the long and ring fingers pose no urgency to separate, even if the condition is complex. Post operation requires therapy to keep the scar soft and help regain motion.