A Novel Method of Using Mini External Fixator for Maintaining Web Space After the Release of Contracture and Syndactyly

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Abstract

Syndactyly and postburn contracture of the digits are the common cases seen in a hand clinic. Their management can be roughly divided into 3 stages. In stage 1, syndactyly/postburn contracture of the digits are surgically released; in stage 2, surgical wound care is provided; and in stage 3, the patient undergoes physiotherapy (rehabilitation). The most common method of immobilizing the digit after the release is by plaster of Paris splints. Its demerit includes loss of correction, painful postoperative dressing, and suboptimal graft uptake due to improper immobilization and maceration. We describe a simple and effective method of mitigating the above-mentioned drawbacks using a mini external fixator, after the release of the contracted fingers. The use of this fixator also helps during the surgery (stage 1) as resurfacing of the raw areas becomes quick because 2 surgeons can perform this simultaneously. The web can be further opened up using the fixator to facilitate the suturing of the FTG/flap, after which it can be brought back to its normal position. As the dimension of the raw area created is fully defined it becomes easier to suture the flap/graft with appropriate tension and tie-over dressing. The postoperative dressings become easier and pain free. The maceration of the skin graft and skin margin is reduced as the compressive dressing can be applied to individual fingers rather than a collective dressing. It is advantageous even in stage 3 as it allows the surgeon to customize the splint for each finger.

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