Fingertip Replantation at or Distal to the Nail Base: Use of the Technique of Artery-Only Anastomosis


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Abstract

The authors describe the functional and aesthetic results of microsurgical replantation of 21 fingertip amputations at or distal to the nail base—namely, zone I amputations. There were 15 male and 6 female patients, with an average age of 26 years (age range, 1–41 years). Replantations were performed using the anastomosis of the artery-only technique, with neither vein nor nerve repair. Venous drainage was provided by an external bleeding method with a fish-mouth incision in “distal” zone I amputations for approximately 7 days, and by the use of leeches in more “proximal” zone I amputations for 10 to 12 days. Results indicated that the overall survival rate was 76%, with 16 of 21 digits surviving. Sensory evaluation at an average follow-up of 12 months (range, 6–18 months) revealed an average static two-point discrimination of 6.1 mm (range, 2.0–8.0 mm). Considering the unfavorable results and the donor site morbidity of various fingertip reconstructions, a microsurgical fingertip replantation should always be considered except in extremely distal, clean-cut, pediatric cases, in which case a composite graft is a possibility. The results of this series indicate that an amputated fingertip in zone I can be salvaged successfully by microvascular anastomosis of the artery only, with a nonmicrosurgical method of venous drainage. Furthermore, acceptable sensory recovery can be expected without any nerve coaptation.

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