Prevention of Thumb Web Space Contracture With Multiplanar External Fixation

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Thumb web space contracture following hand trauma can be disabling with numerous reconstructive procedures existing to correct the resultant deformity. Following marked soft tissue injury to the hand we utilized the Stryker Hoffmann II Micro External Fixator System to link the first and second metacarpals by a multiplanar system using 1.6 or 2.0 mm self-drilling half-pins and 3 mm carbon fiber connecting rods. This facilitated placement of the thumb in maximal palmar abduction as well as allowed adjustment of thumb position throughout the postoperative period. This technique was performed on 5 patients. Two patients were treated with a first web space external fixator for table saw injuries to the radial aspect of the hand. An additional 2 patients were treated with a first web space external fixator following metacarpophalangeal joint capsular release in the setting of thermal burns. A fifth patient underwent second ray amputation, trapeziectomy and trapezoidectomy for squamous cell carcinoma with subsequent stabilization with the external fixator. The external fixator was left in place until soft tissues were healed (average 5.5 wk). The patients were allowed to mobilize their hand in as much as the external fixator allowed, and no device-associated complications were noted. Thumb web space was preserved with passive and supple thumb circumduction and web space abduction/adduction in all patients at an average follow-up of 5 months. The average Quick Dash Score was 35±5 and the average Modern Activity Subjective Survey of 2007 was 30±8.

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