Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions
In most cases, doctors remove an extra finger or toe in early childhood. The goal of treatment is to give your child a hand or foot that works well and looks typical. There are also practical concerns, such as removing an extra toe so your child's foot fits well into shoes.
Polydactyly Treatment Options
The method for removing an extra digit depends on how it connects to the hand or foot. An extra digit may connect with only a narrow stalk of tissue, or it may connect more deeply and share bones, muscles and other tissues with the hand or foot.
If the digit is poorly formed and contains no bone, sometimes the treatment is as simple as attaching a vascular clip at the base during a clinic visit. The clip stops blood flow to the digit so it will fall off, like the stump of belly button does soon after birth. After attaching the clip, the doctor puts a bandage on your child's hand or foot. In a couple of weeks, your child comes back to the clinic to have the bandage removed.
If the digit is better formed, a surgeon removes it in the operating room when your child is about 1 year old. This is done as a day surgery. Your child's surgery will be based on their exact condition. More complex cases may require complex surgery. The surgery may involve carefully cutting through or around bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons and other tissues to remove the extra digit. Then the surgeon may need to move or reconnect some structures before closing the skin so the whole hand or foot works well and looks normal.
After surgery, your child may need to wear a cast or splint on their hand or foot while it heals. The doctor will want your child to come back for follow-up visits to make sure they are healing well. Some children who have extensive surgery with cutting through many tissues may have occupational therapy to help with swelling, scarring and stiffness.