Long-term outcome of fingertip reconstruction with the homodigital neurovascular island flap.


Department for Plastic, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery, Hand Trauma Center, BG-Trauma Center Frankfurt am Main, Academic Hospital of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt Am Main, Friedberger Landstrasse 430, 60389, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Fingertip injuries are frequent and several surgical strategies exist to reconstruct the amputated part and restore function and appearance. Yet, long-term results are rarely published. The purpose of this study was to examine the long-term clinical outcome of neurovascular island flaps for traumatic fingertip amputation of Allen type III/IV injuries.
METHODS : We retrospectively analysed a cohort of patients with traumatic fingertip amputation that underwent reconstruction with a neurovascular island flap from January 2003 to December 2014. No mandatory splinting was applied after surgery. 28 participants (29 fingers) were available for follow-up at mean 8 years after reconstruction. Activities of daily living were measured with the disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand questionnaire. Grip strength and finger motion were assessed using a Jamar dynamometer and a goniometer. Two-point discrimination and Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments were used to evaluate sensory recovery.
RESULTS : No intraoperative complications occurred and all flaps survived. Mean flap size was 4.7 ± 0.6 cm2. Active motion of the fingers was over 95% of the contralateral side at follow-up. Three patients showed mild extension lag of the proximal interphalangeal joint. The grip strength of the affected hand and of each of the affected fingers was over 70% of the contralateral side. In comparison to the contralateral side we did not detect any significant difference for the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test, but two-point discrimination (5.1 ± 1.7 mm) was significantly impaired. According to the Lim classification 1 of 14 nails with hook nail deformity showed grade 3 breaking of the nail. The DASH score was 16.0. All patients returned to their original occupation and patient satisfaction with the procedure was high.
CONCLUSIONS : The risk for disabling flexion contracture seems to be small even without mandatory splinting. Neurovascular island flaps for fingertip amputation of Allen type III/IV injuries are a reliable tool in fingertip reconstruction in the long term.


Direct flow flap,Fingertip defect,Fingertip reconstruction,Homodigital artery flap,Homodigital neurovascular island flap,