Adjacent and Spontaneous Neurotization after Distal Digital Replantation in Children

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In an exclusively pediatric population, this retrospective study examined the functional and aesthetic results after distal replantation without nerve suture. The aim was to demonstrate, in the child, the presence of spontaneous nervous regeneration resulting in a fingertip pulp with discriminatory sensation. Eight amputations in eight children with a mean age of 9 years and 2 months on the day of the accident were reviewed. The cases were managed by a single surgeon over a period of 8 years and were collected from two different hand centers. The patients were then examined by a different surgeon, and the data were collected. Sensibility was evaluated using the Weber, Semmes-Weinstein, and wrinkle tests. The results were excellent, with mean values of 4.6 mm for the Weber test, 3.3 for the Semmes-Weinstein test, and a positive wrinkle test in all subjects. All patients thus recovered discriminatory sensation with minimal aesthetic sequelae. The usual factors adversely affecting the results of the replantation (ischemic time, level and mechanism of the amputation, and quality of the venous return) were examined, but no statistical analysis was performed because of the small sample size. This study demonstrates the presence of the clinical phenomenon of adjacent neurotization in the absence of nerve repair. It thus confirms that children are excellent candidates for replantation of the distal extremities, even when nerve suture is not performed. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 111: 159, 2003.)

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