In China, a team of surgeons has perfected an operation in which seriously injured thumbs are replaced by grafting onto the hand the patients second toe.
In China, a team of surgeons has perfected an operation in which seriously injured thumbs are replaced by grafting onto the hand the patients second toe. They say when the grafting is healed the toe functions as a thumb quite normally, and is sensitive to touch.
SYNOPSIS: The operating techniques have been perfected by surgeons and medical specialists, at Shanghai's First Medical College. The team is lead by Doctor Yang Tung-yueh, who has successfully carried out fifty similar operations.
In the operating theatre one team of surgeons begin the surgery to remove the patient's second toe, while at the same time the second team prepare the injured thumb, ready for the transplant. After the toe is removed, and the muscles, nerves arteries, and veins, severed, it is taken to the position of the injured thumb. Once it is in position, the surgeons use a microscope to join the nerve fibres and blood vessels together. The joining of the very fine nerve fibres and blood vessels, some just 2 millimetres (0,079 of an inch)in diameter require precise and exacting surgical skill. But, say the surgeons, the healing and recovery is quick.
They also say the method of using the second toe rather than the big toe, as in similar operations in other countries, has less effect on the patient's ability to walk. This patient is now back at work on a lathe, with his new thumb. It may look awkward, but without a thumb the hand loses seventy per cent of its manipulative power.