Correction of Severe Postburn Claw Hand

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Burn scar contractures are perhaps the most frequent and most frustrating sequelae of thermal injuries to the hand. Unfortunately, stiffness occurs in the burned hand quickly. A week of neglect in the burned hand can lead to digital malpositioning and distortion that may be difficult to correct. The dorsal contracture is the most common of all the complications of the burned hand. It is the result of damage to the thin dorsal skin and scant subcutaneous tissue, which offers little protection to the deeper structures. Consequently, these injuries are deep resulting in a spectrum of deformities that has remained the bane of reconstructive surgery. Flap coverage will be required in the event of exposure of joints and tendons with absent paratenons. Multiple different flap types are available to treat complex severe postburn hand contractures. In our center, which is the largest regional burn center in northwest Iran, we have considerable experience in the treatment of thermal hand injuries. Between 2005 and 2010, we treated 53 consecutive patients with 65 severe postburn hand deformities. There were 35 men and 18 women with a mean age of 35±3 years. Flame injury was the inciting traumatic event in each patient. The severity of original injury and inadequate early treatment resulted in all of the fingers developing a severe extension contracture with scarred and adherent extensor tendons and subluxed metacarpophalangeal joints. In 36 cases, the injury was in the patients' dominant hand. We first incised the dorsal aspect of the contracted hands where there was maximum tension, then tenolysed the extensor tendons and released the volar capsules, collateral ligaments, and volar plate in all cases. In 30 cases, we also tenolysed the flexor tendons. We reduced the subluxed metacarpophalangeal joints and fixed them with Kirschner wires in 70 to 90 degrees flexion. Then, we planned and performed axial groin flaps to reconstruct the defects in all of them. In all of these patients, there was availability of intact skin in the territory of groin flap. However, in case of burn scars in this region, we had other options such as posterior interosseous flap in mind. Six patients experienced superficial necrosis at the distal margin of the flap, which was successfully treated with local wound care and dressing changes. There were no other complications. Physical therapy was initiated after Kirschner wire removal.

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