Dr Steve Carter
Cleft Hand Deformities
What is a cleft hand deformity?
A cleft hand deformity is a physical defect that is characterised by missing fingers or incorrect development in the hand at birth. This congenital defect usually occurs in the centre of the hand and forms a v-shaped cleft in affected children.
Cleft hand deformities occur when a child's hands do not properly develop in the womb; that is why it is known as a congenital birth defect. The deformity is caused by genetic abnormalities that are usually hereditary and requires surgical attention to repair.
Though cleft hand deformities often occur in the centre of the hand, they can sometimes form on either the thumb or little finger side of the hand too. In addition to a cleft hand, some children may be born with a number of other genetic complications like a cleft lip or defects in the feet, but this is not always the case. Cleft hand deformities are often present in both hands. Sometimes, however, the deformity can be isolated to one hand.
How cleft hand deformities are treated
Severe cleft hand deformities can prevent a child from learning a number of mobility skills and leading a normal life. If left untreated, a child can grow up unable to write, play sports and do other activities that require hands. This can affect children psychologically and, in turn, socially too.
Dr Carter can perform surgery to improve the appearance and function of cleft hands in serious cases. This process involves x-raying the hands to determine what type of deformity is present and to examine the bone, nerves and tissue structure of the hands.
Once Dr Carter understands the anatomy of the affected hands, he will determine the best way to go about closing the cleft between the fingers. Surgery is performed when the child is about a year old, however, if they have a progressive cleft that will get worse over time, the operation will be performed earlier.
During the surgery, Dr Carter will improve the position of the bones and tissue of the hands to ensure that the child can use them effectively. The child will have to wear a cast for some time afterwards, and engage in physical therapy, to learn how to use their reconstructed hands.