Posttraumatic proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint contractures of the digits are common and are associated with impaired hand function. However, relapse is common after surgical release of PIP joint contractures. This article presents a novel treatment strategy with a PIP joint adipofascial flap to resurface the joint after release, and compares patients with similar joint contracture release who did and did not undergo resurfacing with a PIP joint adipofascial flap.
From January of 2010 to January of 2018, 10 patients received single-digit PIP joint flexion contracture release and PIP joint adipofascial flap resurfacing; 20 patients received a stepwise release as a control group. Thirty joints were compared, and the degree of extension lag improvement over time was measured during an average follow-up period of 292.4 days.
Greater extension lag improvement was observed in the PIP joint adipofascial flap group compared with the control group (37.0 ± 19.2 degrees versus 21.0 ± 19.5 degrees; p
=0.055). The ratio of improvement was also significantly higher in the flap group (0.79 ± 0.26 versus 0.49 ± 0.46; p
=0.049). Flap resurfacing appeared to have a beneficial effect on improvements in extension lag (p
=0.042), whereas a higher number of secondary operations, associated fractures, and maximum visual analogue scale score 1 week postoperatively were negatively associated with extension lag in univariate analysis (p
< 0.05). Generalized estimating modeling showed that flap resurfacing had a significantly positive effect on extensor lag improvement with time (β = 2.235; p
PIP joint adipofascial flap resurfacing following PIP joint contracture release may improve and maintain extensor lag. Recovery of joint motion may also be quicker compared with conventional release alone.
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