Functional Improvement with Free Vascularized Toe-to-hand Proximal Interphalangeal (PIP) Joint Transfer

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Background:Reconstruction of small joints of fingers is still challenging in hand surgery. Implant arthroplasty and arthrodesis have some limitations in the reconstruction of small finger joints. Free vascularized PIP joint transfer from second toe to finger is a promising autogenous reconstructive alternative.Methods:In this prospective study, 7 cases of free vascularized PIP joint transfer were analyzed. The measurements for active and passive range of motion (ROM), grip, and pinch strength has been done preoperatively and 1-year postoperatively. The functional change in daily life quality and work-related activities was evaluated with Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire.Results:Mean follow-up period was 20.3 months (12–25). Preoperative mean active and passive ROM values were 3.6° (0–14°) and 11.9° (0–29°), respectively. Postoperative 1-year measurements revealed a mean active ROM of 24.1° and a mean passive ROM of 31.6°. Mean grip and pinch strength increased from 52.1 to 58.6 lbs and from 5.1 to 5.9 lbs, respectively. Mean preoperative and postoperative DASH-scores were 41.3 and 30.3.Conclusion:The improvement in ROM, increasing grip strength, and declining DASH scores in our study support that free vascularized joint transfer improves patients’ daily life quality and work-related activities via providing a functional joint if performed with appropriate indications, careful planning, and meticulous surgical execution. Free vascularized joint transfer provides an autogenous, painless, mobile, and stable joint. It also has the advantages of composite tissue reconstruction and lacks the disadvantages of arthrodesis and synthetic joint implants.

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