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Research by NDORMS Dominic Furniss, Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, finds that surgery for the common hand disorder Dupuytren’s disease is safe and effective. However, repeat surgery could carry higher risks of complications such as finger amputation.

Elderly woman suffering from pain From Rheumatoid Arthritis © one photo/Shutterstock.com

Dupuytren’s disease is a condition that effects the hands. The tissue beneath the skin of the palm becomes thickened which often does not limit the use of the hand. But one in three suffer from Dupuytren’s contracture, which means their fingers ben inwards, and they need surgery to straighten them. 

The study looked at three different types of surgery for Dupuytren’s disease and the risk of complications each operation came with, including the need for repeat operations. 

The team hope that the research will help surgeons and patients understand the risks and benefits of the different types of surgery. Professor Furniss said: “The main message of our study is that surgery for Dupuytren’s disease as practiced in the NHS is safe.

We’ve known for a long time that repeat surgery is more difficult than primary surgery. This is because operating through scar tissue increases the risk of damage to nerves and blood vessels. But we found that repeating surgery after dermofasciectomy carried a surprisingly high risk of damaging the blood supply. Despite the relatively high risk, this is a rare event. As such, many surgeons would see few cases like this during their career and would find it difficult to estimate the risk for patients. Using large national datasets, as we did in this study, can help surgeons and patients understand the risks. 

Surgery for many hand conditions is being increasingly rationed in the NHS, with something of a postcode lottery. The work we’re doing underlines the fact that this is not equitable and shouldn’t be restricted.” 

Read the full story on the NIHR website. 

 

 

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