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What is polydactyly?

Some babies are born with one or more extra fingers or toes, a condition known as polydactyly. The extra digit may be outside the thumb or big toe, outside the little finger or toe, or between other fingers or toes. In some cases, it is simply skin (a nubbin) connected by a thin tissue. In other cases, it is deeply connected and possesses bone, muscles, blood vessels and nerves.

The condition may be isolated and pose no health concerns, or it can occur as part of a genetic syndrome.

At Cohen Children’s, our network of pediatric services, our multidisciplinary team of pediatric plastic surgeons, physicians, rehabilitation specialists and more works together to ensure the best possible treatment and recovery for your child.

What to expect

If your baby is born with extra fingers and/or toes, a doctor will need to examine them to determine if it’s an isolated condition or if there is a genetic syndrome at play. This way, your baby can receive the comprehensive medical care they will need.

As far as treatment, if simple, often the extra digit can be removed in the office under local anesthesia.  The child will wear a bandage for a couple of days afterward. The result is a simple linear scar.

If the digit is well formed, a more complex surgery will be needed to remove it, optimally when the child is 1 year old. Details of surgery will depend on each specific case, but our surgeons will expertly remove the extra digit and restore normal function and appearance.

Complications

Risks involved with this procedure may include:

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Scarring

Recovery

For simple cases handled in the office, recovery is fast, often without the need for any pain medication,

After a more complex surgery, your child may have to wear a cast or splint. Follow-up visits with our team will ensure a healthy recovery. Occupational therapy might be useful in helping your child fine-tune their movements.

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