Although primary toe-to-hand transplantation is performed with increasing frequency, its use is still controversial because of the lack of any comparative studies documenting its safety and efficacy. Between August of 1990 and December of 1993, 175 consecutive toe-to-hand transplantations for crush and avulsion injuries were performed in 122 patients. The average interval between injury and primary reconstruction was 7 days, and the average interval between injury and secondary reconstruction was 10.7 months. Follow-up ranged from 18 to 91 months, with an average follow-up of 58 months. There were 31 primary transplantations and 144 secondary transplantations. The survival rate was 96.8 percent (30 of 31) for primary reconstruction and 96.5 percent (139 of 144) for secondary reconstruction. Intraoperative anastomotic revision was necessary in 3.2 percent (one of 31) of primary transplantations and 7.6 percent (11 of 144) of secondary transplantations. Three primary toe-to-hand transplantations (9.7 percent) and 17 secondary toe-to-hand transplantations (11.8 percent) were re-explored in the postoperative period. Each group had one superficial infection. The infection rate was 6.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the primary and secondary groups, respectively. Other complications included partial skin loss, which occurred in one patient (3.2 percent) in the primary group and six patients (4.2 percent of 144 transplantations) in the secondary group. Secondary procedures to improve function were necessary in six secondary transplantations (4.2 percent) and in none of the primary transplantations. There was no statistical difference between the two groups in terms of survival, intraoperative anastomotic revision, re-exploration, future secondary procedure, infection, and complications. This series demonstrates that primary toe-to-hand transplantation can be performed in the suitable candidate safely with as much success as secondary reconstruction. Primary toe transplantation can potentially reduce the overall period of recovery and rehabilitation, allowing the patient to return to work sooner. Further study to evaluate and compare the final functional outcome and return to work time between primary and secondary toe-to-hand transplantation is needed.
From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and College of Medicine, Chang Gung University.
Received for publication June 14, 1999; revised July 16, 2003.
Presented at the 12th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, in Boca Raton, Florida, January 13, 1997.
Fu-Chan Wei, M.D.
Department of Plastic Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 199 Tun Hwa North Road, Taipei 105, Taiwan, firstname.lastname@example.org