Reconstruction of the traumatized thumb

Mitchell A. Pet, Jason H. Ko, Nicholas B. Vedder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: The goals of thumb reconstruction include the restoration of thumb length, strength, position, stability, mobility, sensibility, and aesthetics. It is a rare event when all of these objectives can be achieved, and prioritization should be based on the goals and functional demands of the patient. Methods: In this article, the authors review the most common reconstructive strategies for all types of traumatic thumb defects. Results: Replantation is approached first as the primary option for most amputations. Nonreplantable injuries are organized using a simple classification adapted from Lister, dividing thumb amputations into four functional categories: soft-tissue deficit with acceptable length, subtotal amputation with borderline length, total amputation with preservation of the carpometacarpal joint, and total amputation with destruction of the carpometacarpal joint. Within each category, relevant microsurgical and nonmicrosurgical reconstructive techniques are discussed, with a focus on appropriate technique selection for a given patient. Evidence and outcomes data are reviewed where available, and case examples from our own experience are provided. Conclusions: Given that available options now range from simple gauze dressings to complex microsurgical reconstruction, preservation of reconstructive flexibility is essential and should be facilitated by judicious preservation of intact structures. The divergence of available reconstructive pathways underscores the importance of knowing one's patients, understanding their motivation, and assessing their goals. Only in properly matching the right reconstruction with the right patient will a mutually satisfactory result be achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1245
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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