Single-Stage Separation of 3- and 4-Finger Incomplete Simple Syndactyly With Contiguous Gull Wing Flaps: A Technique to Minimize or Avoid Skin Grafting

Xiaofei Tian, Jun Xiao, Tianwu Li, Wei Chen, Qiu Lin, Harvey Chim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Purpose Staged separation of 3- and 4-finger syndactyly is commonly performed owing to concerns about vascular supply to the central digit and availability of flap skin. We performed single-stage separation of patients with incomplete syndactyly of multiple digits with adjacent contiguous dorsal gullwing flaps and avoided skin grafts in the majority of cases. Methods Seventy-four webs of 31 patients with more than 2-finger incomplete syndactyly were included. Median age at surgical separation was 12 months (range, 5–123 months). All cases were incomplete syndactyly that did not extend to the fingernail level, with no bony involvement. A dorsal gullwing flap was used for all cases, which reconstructed the interdigital webs and partly covered the lateral side of the proximal phalanx. The technique relies on perfusion of the flap through the dorsal metacarpal artery perforator to aid flap mobility and double radial and ulnar z-plasties on each side of the flap to aid flap advancement. Skin grafts were needed if there were any remaining skin defects. Results In 30 of 31 cases, a single-stage procedure was accomplished. One case was staged owing to abnormal digital arterial anatomy found on exploration. No skin graft was required in 21 out of 31 patients (67.7%). Median postoperative follow-up was 12 months (range, 6–36 months). All finger web depths were normal or slightly deepened. Conclusions One-stage separation for 3- and 4-finger syndactyly with a dorsal gullwing flap is feasible and safe as long as at least 1 proper digital artery is preserved in each finger. The need for skin grafting is minimized. Type of study/level of evidence Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes



  • congenital hand
  • Poland syndrome
  • synbrachydactyly
  • Syndactyly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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