What is symbrachydactyly?

Symbrachydactyly is a rare congenital hand defect in which the fingers are abnormally short and webbed or conjoined. The bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves of the hand are usually affected. The roots of the word are from the Greek “syn/sym” (joined), “brachy” (short), and “dactyl” (finger, digit).

Symbrachydactyly occurs in about one out of every 32,000 babies. It affects boys and girls equally.

There are different levels of the condition:

  1. The thumb is essentially normal, but the remaining fingers are short and stiff and can be webbed (least severe).
  2. Only the thumb or the thumb and little finger are present (moderately severe).
  3. All the fingers are missing, and small skin stumps are located where fingers should have developed (most severe).

What causes symbrachydactyly?

Most cases of symbrachydactyly happen for no known reason and without any other abnormalities in the child. It isn’t thought to be inherited. In some cases, symbrachydactyly is an accompanying defect in a genetic syndrome called Poland syndrome, in which there is underdevelopment of the chest muscle on one side of the body.

What are the symptoms of symbrachydactyly?

Symbrachydactyly is visible at, or shortly after, birth. Sometimes it is seen on ultrasound before birth. Your child’s fingers will be short and webbed. In severe cases, your child’s fingers will be small stumps of skin and soft tissue. Because of these differences, your child may have trouble using the affected hand.

How Boston Children's cares for symbrachydactyly

Combining training in adolescent and pediatric orthopedics, hand surgery, plastic surgery, and microsurgery allows our surgeons to provide a comprehensive level of care unmatched in most other hospital settings.

Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program

The Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program provides comprehensive care involving occupational and physical therapy, splinting, casting, and reconstructive surgeries for infants, children, and adolescents with complex congenital, neuromuscular, sports-related oncologic, and traumatic upper limb conditions.

Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program

The specialists in the Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program at Boston Children's are experts in the management of congenital and acquired hand deformities. We recognize the social elements involved in pediatric hand surgery, so an essential part of these operations has been making the child's hand as symmetrical as possible with the unaffected hand.