Replantation is the surgical reattachment of a finger, hand or arm that has been completely severed from a person’s body. This involves bones, tendons, nerves, arteries and veins. The goal of this surgery is to give the patient back as much use of the injured area as possible. This procedure is recommended if the replanted part is expected to function without pain and if the amputated part is not too badly damaged. Norman Weinzweig, Chicago Hand Surgeon, is one of the most experienced hand microsurgeons in the country having replanted or revascularized hundreds of amputated thumbs, fingers, hands or arms over the past 25 years.
In order for replantation to be successful, blood flow must be re-established through the arteries and veins in order for the amputated part to survive. Even if the amputated part survives, it doesn’t matter unless useful function is restored. Restoration of function depends upon the severity of injury as well as the combined efforts of the hand surgeon, therapist and patient. In the case of an unsuccessful replantation, completion amputation with or without a prosthesis may be an option. A prosthesis can look almost identical to the amputated part, provide excellent function and, often, both.
There are a number of steps to performing a replantation. These must be performed in an orderly and precise fashion. First, meticulous debridement of non-viable tissue must be done. The bones are then rejoined with either pins or plate and screws, occasionally with shortening of the bone ends. Next, the tendons and muscles are repaired. Lastly, under the microscope, the nerves, arteries and veins are repaired. Occasionally, vein grafts are needed to bridge any gap in anastomosis of the arteries and veins.
Patients have a very important role in the recovery process of replantation. The best efforts and intentions of the patient and occupational therapist can be thwarted by poor compliance on the part of the patient. Generally, patients should keep the replanted part above heart level to increase circulation and avoid smoking. Physical therapy and temporary bracing are also extremely important. Norman Weinzweig, Chicago Hand Surgeon, will walk each patient through the recovery process.
– About Norman Weinzweig –
Norman Weinzweig, Founder of The Chicago Institute for Hand Surgery & Rehabilitation, has extensive clinical experience in dealing with the most complex hand injuries including replantation of thumbs, fingers, hands and arms with excellent functional outcomes. Norman Weinzweig, Chicago Hand Surgeon, is a powerful advocate for patient care, education and research. He is dedicated to utilizing state-of-the-art technology and a multidisciplinary approach to challenging hand conditions to achieve clinical excellence.