Throughout her pregnancy, Theresa Sadek had no idea that there was anything wrong with her baby boy. But when Henry was born, and she saw him for the first time, she knew right away…
"The first thing a mother does is look for 10 fingers and 10 toes. And I noticed that two fingers on his right hand were stuck together. I called the nurse over and showed her, and she said it might just be fluid, but we tried to get it off, and nothing happened. His fingers were staying together."
The next morning, the doctor told Theresa that Henry had a condition called syndactyly, and referred her to a hand surgeon, who could perform a surgery when Henry was between the ages of six months and a year.
Theresa and her husband Eric wanted the best for Henry, so they scheduled appointments with hand surgeons at three different hospitals. The ended up choosing Dr. Joseph Falia, and orthopaedic hand surgeon at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
"The first two appointments went all right, but when I met Dr. Falia, I knew that he would be the hand surgeon for Henry," Says Theresa. "He has the best personality. He was a perfectionist. He drew a picture of what he was going to do, and how he was going to do it. It was just awesome."
Dr. Falia has many years of experience in pediatric hand surgery. This includes the surgical treatment of syndactyly as well as repeat surgery on recurrent cases.
Sydactylyl happens when the embryo is growing limbs. Each limb starts as a "limb bud," and the extremities, like fingers, are webbed. After about seven or eight weeks of development, a chemichal signal is sent which tells the webbed tissues to regress, or go away. In some children, the signal isn’t there, or is only partially there, and the web may not disappear entirely. Some fingers may continue to develop while still attaché to one another. The most common cases are where the two middle fingers are stuck together.
Syndactlyly occurs in about one in every three thousand births. Dr. Falia and his team can fix this condition in a same-day procedure that lasts about 60 minutes. Since the condition is not life threatening, Falia prefers to wait until the child is 12 to 18 months old to do the surgery. At that stage the fingers are larger and easier to work with.
When the two fingers are separated, there is a area of skin missing on each. Closing the incision would pull the skin too tightly, so the surgeon borrows some skin from the top of the hand where the fingers are attached, and turns that skin down to the palm side. This creates a surface that helps avoid any scar tissue.
Henry’s surgery goes smoothly, and he is sent home with a cast on his arm to prevent him from harming the surgery site. Two weeks later, he returns to Dr. Falia’s office to have the cast removed. The skin is pink and showing signs that the graft is a success.
Later, Henry’s hand is healing well. He’s using all of his fingers and his parents are very pleased with how the surgery went, and the results.
To learn more about syndactyly, or to request an appointment with Dr. Falia, call 888-DMC-2500.