Thumb Hypoplasia Occurring in Patients With Preaxial Polydactyly

Andrea S. Bauer, Anuj P. Netto, Michelle A. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Thumb polydactyly and thumb hypoplasia are generally regarded as separate clinical entities. However, several case reports indicate that hypoplasia of both the thumb and the radius can occur in patients with thumb polydactyly and improved understanding of the genetics of the developing upper limb may give an embryologic explanation for this occurrence. Our hypothesis was that patients with preaxial polydactyly can have ipsilateral thumb hypoplasia that may not be recognized until after surgical reconstruction of the extra digit. Methods: We searched our surgical database for all procedures performed on patients with a diagnosis of preaxial polydactyly between 2002 and 2014. We reviewed the medical record for demographic data, surgical procedures, and follow-up information. In addition, all available radiographs were reviewed. Through this, we identified patients with a diagnosis of ipsilateral thumb hypoplasia, including when in the course of treatment the diagnosis was made, and any related subsequent procedures. Results: We reviewed 132 patients who underwent reconstruction of thumb polydactyly, 10 of whom were identified as having evidence of ipsilateral thumb hypoplasia, an incidence of 8.2%. The diagnosis of thumb hypoplasia was made before surgery in 3 of the 10 patients. One additional patient was noted to have a duplicate thumb on one side and a hypoplastic thumb on the contralateral side. Conclusions: This study supports the hypothesis that children with preaxial polydactyly can have ipsilateral thumb hypoplasia that may not be noted before surgery. In this study group, 8% of patients with preaxial polydactyly had ipsilateral hypoplasia. Type of study/level of evidence: Prognostic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Congenital hand
  • Preaxial polydactyly
  • Thumb hypoplasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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