Replantation of DigitsSevered fingers and toes, or digits, can be reattached to the body with a replantation procedure. It is also possible to restore their function.
Losing a finger or a toe in an accident doesn’t always mean you’ll have to live the rest of your life without that digit. In fact, you may even be able to get it back and regain much of its function. The replantation of digits is possible through surgery when certain criteria for reattachment is met.
When Replantation Is IdealThe best chance you have of a successful replantation with regained function is when the affected digit was severed from your body rather than crushed, mangled or pulled off. If a digit is too damaged for replantation surgery, a surgeon will clean up the affected area of your hand or foot and cover it. This is called revision amputation.
Procedure DetailsAfter removing damaged tissue from the affected area, a surgeon will prepare the bone ends for reattachment. Once the bones are affixed together, the tendons, arteries, veins, nerves and muscles are repaired and grafts are applied as needed.
What to Expect
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with the replantation of digits, such as:
- Blood clots
- Excessive bleeding
After your replantation surgery, you will have to keep the replanted digit elevated above your heart and avoid nicotine, caffeine and chocolate in order to maintain a healthy level of circulation. Anything that negatively affects blood flow to your extremities will affect your healing process. You will also undergo physical therapy to regain strength in the digit.
Effectiveness of Replantation Surgery
Replantation surgery is generally effective at relieving pain, though you must be prepared to lose some of the digit’s function. No digits ever regain all of the strength and movement they had prior to injury. Your ability to feel sensations at the tip of your replanted digit will also depend on how many joints were affected when it was injured—the more joints were detached with your digit, the longer it will be before feeling returns.
Tampa General Hospital’s orthopaedic trauma unit can provide you with the care you need. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained surgeons give patients world-class treatment using the latest advances in medical technology.