The aim of this study was to compare the indications, techniques, and outcomes of vascularized and nonvascularized toe-to-hand transfer surgery in patients with congenital hand differences.
A systematic review was conducted according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Studies containing data on indications, surgical technique, and outcomes for patients with congenital absence or deficiency of digits or thumb treated with toe-to-hand transfer were included. Failure was defined as resorption of the transfer or necrosis necessitating removal.
Forty studies published between 1978 and 2020 were included. A total of 319 patients (59.7%) had vascularized transfers, 214 (40.1%) had nonvascularized transfers, and one had both (0.2%). Symbrachydactyly was the most common indication in both groups (46.3% vascularized and 45.3% nonvascularized). The most commonly transplanted toe was the second toe in the vascularized group (72.6 %) and fourth toe in the nonvascularized group (32.2%). Vascularized toe transfers were most commonly used to reconstruct the thumb (53.3%), as were nonvascularized transfers (30%). Vascular complications occurred after 6.8% of vascularized transfers, although 94.7% were ultimately successful after reoperation. Resorption accounted for most complications after nonvascularized transfers. More secondary procedures were required after nonvascularized transfers. In the vascularized group, there was a higher success rate of 98.6% (95% CI, 97.4% to 99.7%), compared with 86.8% (95% CI, 83.6% to 90%) in the nonvascularized group (P < 0.001).
The authors’ study found a higher success rate in vascularized transfers. The ideal technique must be assessed on an individual patient basis, accounting for baseline hand structure, in addition to the ultimate aesthetic and functional goals.