Pollicization (Surgery to Create a Thumb)
What is Pollicization?
Pollicization is a surgery where a thumb is made from another finger. Most often the index finger is used. This involves the transfer of the index finger to the position of the thumb. The index finger is not removed, but rather rotated and brought down into the thumb position. This includes shifting of the whole finger with its skin, fingernail, bone, joints, blood vessels and nerves from one position in the hand to the thumb position. The goal is to improve overall hand function.
What to Expect after Surgery
- Plan on a hospital stay of 2 to 3 nights. This depends on your child's recovery.
- There will be a dressing on your child's hand and a short arm splint in place. Your child will need to wear the splint for 3 weeks. After that time, the splint can be used to protect your child's hand when playing unsupervised.
- When the index finger is shifted into the thumb position, great care is taken to reduce the size of the scars. Your surgeon attempts to place them towards the palm of the hand, in the web space, and at the base of the thumb. Scarring will depend on how your child heals.
- The dressing must stay dry.
By the time your child is ready to go home, pain should be controlled with pain pills such as Tylenol® with codeine or plain Tylenol®.
Wound Care & Follow-Up
- Your child will be placed on antibiotics during and after surgery to prevent infection.
- The hand will be bandaged and splinted. Please keep this dressing on for about 3 weeks.
- The first follow-up visit will be about 7-10 days after your child goes home.
- It is very important that your child does not use the hand, and that he or she keeps it raised until the follow-up visit.
- After your child is healed, an Occupational Therapist will teach your child how to use the hand in daily routines, such as grasping and using large and small objects.
When to Call Your Doctor
- Increased numbness and/or tingling in the hand, or redness of the fingers
- If the fingers of the affected hand are pale or feel cool to the touch, and are cooler than the other hand
- Bleeding through the gauze or from the incision
- Severe or increased pain not relieved by medicine and rest
- Signs of infection such as increased warmth, swelling, or redness at the incision site, or pus-like drainage
- Temperature greater than 101.5°F
- Severe vomiting
Please call if you have any questions or concerns.
Plastic Surgery Clinic, weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m.: (608) 263-7502
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, this number will be answered by the paging operator. Ask for the plastic surgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll-free Hospital number: (800) 323-8942
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/29/2011
Copyright © 07/29/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6123
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