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Reconstructive hand surgery is a surgical procedure typically performed on a hand that has been altered in appearance or ability, either by deformity or injury. This may involve bone grafting or reattachment of fingers to allow the person to use his hand to a fuller capacity. Orthopedics is a branch of medicine for diagnosing conditions requiring reconstructive hand surgery.
There are many situations that may require hand surgery. Individuals who are born with defects to the hands have a condition known as a congenital deformity. In many cases of birth defects involving the hand, the physician may recommend waiting until the child is older to have the deformity corrected. One such birth defect may involve webbed fingers.
When soft tissue between fingers become fused together with bone fragments, surgery can correct the deformity. This type of reconstructive hand surgery would involve separation of skin growth that has caused fingers to meld together. Without this procedure, common tasks such as holding or grasping objects would become difficult. Surgery for the webbed appearance would also have cosmetic benefits for the patient.
A condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome may necessitate reconstructive hand surgery if function has been severely impaired. Inflammation and nerve damage caused by repetitive motion stress to the hand or wrist is one common factor for this type of damage. Extensive nerve damage may require more complex surgery. Some cases, however, may be improved by reconstructive hand surgery that is less invasive, often with a lower risk for complications.
Some degenerative disorders may require reconstructive hand surgery. This is typically due to disease, such as severe tendinitis, bursitis, or rheumatoid arthritis. In such cases, where muscles or joints have become non-functional or severely impaired, a plastic surgeon may need to repair damaged ligaments, muscle, or bone affecting the joints of fingers or the wrist. In cases where degeneration of joints have impaired normal functioning, a surgeon may opt to perform joint implant surgery.
Injuries to the hand may also necessitate reconstructive surgery. A crushed hand, for example, may require bone grafting or removal of bone fragments. Missing fingers or fingers that have become detached may require delicate microscopic surgery to repair the damage. Severe burns may require a type of reconstructive hand surgery that involves skin grafts.
As with any surgical procedure, there may be risks from reconstructive hand surgery. Complications may include fever or infection and noticeable scarring. In rare cases, total immobility or paralysis of the hand may occur. The patient should follow post-operative instructions from the surgeon to minimize any risk, and any concerns should be discussed with the physician.