Late results of replantations in tip amputations of the thumb

Objectives: We retrospectively evaluated replantations performed for Tamai type 1 thumb amputations.

Methods: The study included 14 patients (12 males, 2 females; mean age 28 years; range 14 to 40 years) whose replanted thumbs survived following replantation for Tamai type 1 amputations in the distal nail fold of the thumb. Central digital artery anastomosis was performed in all the cases. Four patients with an appropriate vein had a single volar vein anastomosis. Nerve repair could be possible in only three patients. Sensory evaluations were made with the Semmes- Weinstein monofilament test, static and moving two-point discrimination tests, and vibration test. In addition, patients were evaluated with respect to atrophy in the replanted part, nail-bed deformities, and cold intolerance. The mean followup period was 11 months (range 6 to 48 months).

Results: The Semmes-Weinstein test was green (range 2.83 to 3.22) in five patients (35.7%), blue (range 3.22 to 3.61) in eight patients (57.1%), and purple (range 3.84 to 4.31) in one patient (7.1%). The mean static and moving two-point discrimination test results were 6.9 mm (range 3 to 10 mm) and 4.5 mm (range 3 to 6 mm), respectively. Compared to the intact fingers, vibration was increased in six thumbs (42.9%), decreased in six thumbs, and the same in two thumbs (14.3%). Atrophy of the replanted parts was observed in five patients (35.7%). Three patients (21.4%) complained about cold intolerance, and three patients had nail-bed deformities. The mean time to return to work was 3.2 months (range 2 to 6 months).

Conclusion: Despite technical difficulties, thumb replantations yield good functional and aesthetic results. Sensory recovery is sufficient even after tip replantations without nerve repair.

Key words: Amputation, traumatic/surgery; anastomosis, surgical; finger injuries; replantation; thumb/surgery.