In this video, we describe a surgical technique for the treatment of an unstable nonunion of a proximal phalangeal fracture of the thumb. The video describes the surgical exposure, preparation of the nonunion site, harvesting of autogenous iliac corticocancellous bone graft, bone grafting of the defect, and stabilization with K-wire fixation.
This video describes the surgical treatment of an established nonunion of a proximal phalangeal fracture in a young teenage girl. This procedure was carried out at a mission hospital in Central America. As in many such cases, a precise history is not available, but it appears that this may have been an open fracture that became infected. This led to a nonunion. At the time of presentation, the nonunion was completely unstable and the distal part of the thumb was severely angulated and incapable of pinch and grasp. The flexor pollicis longus was functional, but it was not clear if the long extensor tendon was intact. Because of the unstable nature of this nonunion and no prospect of healing with any other form of treatment, we elected to perform a structural bone graft to facilitate union and improve stability and function in this thumb. The choice of bone graft is based on several factors. The iliac crest is a reliable source of structural graft. This is essential to provide mechanical support to the surgical construct. Autogenous bone graft has osteogenic and osteoinductive properties that make it the best choice in a nonunion situation.
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and tourniquet control. The left upper extremity and ipsilateral iliac crest are prepped and draped in a sterile manner. The incision is made on the dorsal of the digit extending from the distal segment proximally to the metacarpal area. Deep to the subcutaneous plane, the extensor tendon was found to be scarred and deficient. The nonunion site was easily identified and filled with fibrous tissue. This fibrous tissue was excised and the opposing ends of the nonunion were identified. Excision of all interposed tissue, including fibrocartilaginous and fibrous tissue, must be performed meticulously to expose the healthy bleeding bone surface. Once this is achieved, the thumb is gently distracted and brought out to length. The resulting defect is now measured.
An autogenous iliac graft is harvested by making an incision over the anterior crest. The iliac apophysis is split down the middle and reflected to expose the bony iliac crest. A bicortical piece of bone is harvested, slightly larger than the measured defect. The iliac incision is repaired anatomically by approximating the split apophysis with heavy absorbable sutures and the fascia and skin in a routine manner.
The bone graft is now trimmed to fit the defect. Oversizing by a millimeter or two in length allows the graft to be gently impacted into position at the nonunion site. The inherent stability of this construct is now obvious, but it is wise to stabilize this with a smooth K-wire. This K- wire should be drilled proximally into the head and neck of the metacarpal to provide adequate stability. If the graft construct is not very stable, an additional K-wire may be inserted to provide rotational stability. In this case, however, this was not found necessary. The soft tissues are now repaired in an anatomic fashion. A nonadherent bulky compressive dressing is applied followed by immobilization in a plaster splint. Once the incision is healing well and the postoperative swelling stabilized, a thumb spica cast is applied. This cast protects the thumb and K-wire from inadvertent mishaps and should be left in place until graft healing is evident. The pin is easily removed at this stage. If there is any question of graft healing, then the cast may be reapplied for an additional period.
Follow-up x-rays are typically obtained every 4 weeks until bony union occurs. Typical heal times are 10–12 weeks.
In this patient, due to the lack of a functioning extensor tendon, additional surgery may be necessary at a later stage to stabilize the distal joint
This article presents the surgical management of nonunion following fracture of the proximal phalangeal element in the thumb of an 11-year old child. This case was performed during a surgical mission in Honduras with the World Surgical Foundation.
Fracture of the metacarpals and phalanges is prevalent and represents approximately 40% of upper extremity fractures.1 Nonunion is a complication following fracture that is defined as the absence of bone union that will not heal without further intervention. Depending on the location of the ununited fracture, the patient may present with pain, loss of function, instability, or shortening of the limb or digit. Nonunion is relatively rare and occurs in less than one percent of all fractures.2 However, several factors have been implicated in the increased risk of nonunions. A few of these risk factors include the severity of trauma with soft tissue loss, inherently precarious blood supply such as in scaphoid and femoral neck fractures, infection, and inadequate stabilization. Systemic factors such as smoking and poorly controlled diabetes have been recognized as increasing the risk of nonunion in otherwise uncomplicated fractures.
A nonunion can be categorized as either hypertrophic or atrophic.3 Hypertrophic nonunion is characterized by abundant callus formation and is due to inadequate immobilization. Treatment consists of stabilizing the fracture, usually by surgical fixation. On the other hand, atrophic nonunion (as in the patient presented) is due to the failure of osteogenesis with little or no callus or bridging bone. Factors that reduce bone cell viability such as infection and loss of blood supply lead to atrophic nonunions. In children, these factors may also involve the growth plate leading to premature growth arrest. Surgical principles in the treatment of atrophic nonunion include resection of unhealthy and nonviable bone and soft tissue, bone grafting to provide an osteoconductive and osteogenic environment, and internal fixation to achieve mechanical stability.
In the treatment of atrophic nonunion, there are many different graft materials or graft substitutes available to fill the gap generated during debridement. Examples include autogenous bone, allograft bone, bone marrow aspirates, demineralized bone matrix, bone morphogenetic proteins, platelet-rich plasma, and ceramics.4 With regards to the optimal graft material, autogenous bone has long been recognized as the gold standard. Autogenous tissue is favorable in that it is the only graft material that provides osteogenic, osteoinductive, and osteoconductive properties.5 Other advantages of an autogenous graft are that there is no risk of eliciting an immune response, no risk of disease transmission, and generally reliable availability. The major disadvantage of autografts is that they necessitate some level of donor site morbidity and are subject to potential risks such as the injury of nerves and blood vessels, hematoma formation, infection, and persistent pain.5 Autogenous graft material harvested from many different locations has been used successfully to treat nonunion following a phalangeal fracture. For structural grafts needed to bridge a gap, the iliac crest is the best source for multiple reasons.6-10 These include ease of harvest, abundant supply of corticocancellous bone, and no serious functional deficit. For phalangeal nonunions not needing a structural graft, bone from the distal radius or proximal ulna is an easier local choice. The amount of bone needed for phalangeal fracture nonunions is small, but in other situations harvesting a larger volume of iliac crest graft has led to substantial local morbidity. This has led to surgeons seeking other sources including bone graft substitutes.
In recent years, much progress has been made in novel bone graft substitutes and clinical trials reveal that bone graft substitutes can be used successfully in many situations that previously required an autogenous bone graft.11 However, these substitutes are expensive and although they may have osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties, none have the osteogenic potential of autogenous bone graft and thus it remains the gold standard in the treatment of established nonunion.11
In this patient, the iliac corticocancellous bone graft functioned as a structural graft by virtue of its solid construct and stability afforded by slight overdistraction. In many diaphyseal phalangeal nonunions, this kind of construct allows immediate inherent stabilization. Supplemental fixation is usually with K-wires although small plates can be used, especially in adults where K-wire fixation is deemed unsatisfactory. Surgical stabilization allows an early range of motion. However, stability should never be compromised in favor of early mobilization in situations where the fixation is precarious as in porotic bone, in children, and uncooperative patients. In this particular case, since the patient lived in a rural area without access to frequent follow-up, we preferred to immobilize the digit until healing was complete.
Unfortunately, given the rarity of nonunion following phalangeal fractures, there have been few studies that have reported outcomes following surgical management of phalangeal atrophic nonunion. The most comprehensive investigations relevant to the case presented include two retrospective studies by Al-Qattan et al. In 2010, Al-Qattan reviewed the cases of four pediatric patients (mean age = 2.5 years) suffering from atrophic nonunion of the proximal phalanx of the thumb.12 All patients had been previously treated with closed reduction and splinting of fractures 6–8 months before the presentation. Each patient underwent removal of dead bone, autogenous graft placement, and internal fixation with a single K-wire. The final follow-up was 1–2 years with the primary outcome measured being a range of motion of the interphalangeal (IP) joint.13 At follow-up, the average range of motion was found to be 8° with a range of 5–10°. Subsequently, a follow-up study was published, which assessed outcomes in four pediatric patients, this time with nonunion of digits other than the thumb. In this study, the primary outcome was the Total Active Motion (TAM) of the operated finger compared with the TAM of the same finger on the contralateral side. The TAM of the postoperative digits was, on average, 71.5% that of the control digits. The inability to achieve a full or near-complete range of motion in these digits reflects on the complex nature of finger nonunions where the integrity of the flexor and extensor tendon units and adjacent joint contractures provide unique challenges not seen in long bone nonunions. Although union can be achieved with bone-grafting techniques, the resultant scarring of the tendons ligaments from the initial insult and subsequent surgeries often leads to permanent loss of active and passive motion.
In summary, phalangeal nonunions are rare given the frequency of fractures involving the hand. In most cases, there are obvious causes leading to nonunion. Ideally one must do everything to prevent this adverse outcome. This includes meticulous wound care and antibiotic prophylaxis in open fractures, smoking cessation, and optimal control of diabetes. In established nonunions autogenous bone grafting with internal fixation remains the gold standard of treatment.
Nothing to disclose.
The patient referred to in this video article has given their informed consent to be filmed and is aware that information and images will be published online.
- Chung KC, Spilson SV. The frequency and epidemiology of hand and forearm fractures in the United States. J Hand Surg. 2001;26(5):908-915. doi:10.1053/jhsu.2001.26322.
- Gross T, Kaim AH, Regazzoni P, Widmer AF. Current concepts in posttraumatic osteomyelitis: a diagnostic challenge with new imaging options. J Trauma. 2002;52(6):1210-1219. doi:10.1097/00005373-200206000-00032.
- Weber B, Cech O, Konstam P. Pseudarthrosis: Pathophysiology, Biomechanics, Therapy, Results. Bern. Hans Huber Publishers. 1976.
- Sen MK, Miclau T. Autologous iliac crest bone graft: should it still be the gold standard for treating nonunions? Injury. 2007; 38(1, Supplement):S75-S80. doi:10.1016/j.injury.2007.02.012.
- Hu C, Ashok D, Nisbet DR, Gautam V. Bioinspired surface modification of orthopedic implants for bone tissue engineering. Biomaterials. 2019; 219:119366. doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119366.
- Babhulkar S, Pande K, Babhulkar S. Nonunion of the diaphysis of long bones. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2005; 431:50–56. doi:10.1097/01.blo.0000152369.99312.c5.
- Bellabarba C, Ricci WM, Bolhofner BR. Results of indirect reduction and plating of femoral shaft nonunions after intramedullary nailing. J Orthop Trauma. 2001; 15(4):254-263. doi:10.1097/00005131-200105000-00004.
- Cove JA, Lhowe DW, Jupiter JB, Siliski JM. The management of femoral diaphyseal nonunions. J Orthop Trauma. 1997; 11(7):513-520. doi:10.1097/00005131-199710000-00009.
- Freeland AE, Mutz SB. Posterior bone-grafting for infected ununited fracture of the tibia. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1976; 58(5):653-657.
- Ueng SW, Wei FC, Shih CH. Management of femoral diaphyseal infected nonunion with antibiotic beads local therapy, external skeletal fixation, and staged bone grafting. J Trauma. 1999; 46(1):97-103. doi:10.1097/00005373-199901000-00016.
- Bhatt RA, Rozental TD. Bone graft substitutes. Hand Clin. 2012; 28(4):457-468. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2012.08.001.
- Al-Qattan MM, Cardoso E, Hassanain J, Hawary MB, Nandagopal N, Pitkanen J. Nonunion following subcapital (neck) fractures of the proximal phalanx of the thumb in children. J Hand Surg Edinb Scotl. 1999; 24(6):693-698. doi:10.1054/jhsb.1999.0260.
- Al-Qattan MM, Abou Al-Shaar H, Al Mugaren FM. Nonunion without avascular necrosis of finger phalangeal neck fractures in children: report of 4 cases. J Hand Surg. 2014; 39(8):1529-1534. doi:10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.05.017.
Cite this article
Rao SB, Perlmutter MN, Rao AS, Darner G. Bone graft for nonunion of right thumb proximal phalanx fracture. J Med Insight. 2023;2023(290.13). doi:10.24296/jomi/290.13.
Table of Contents
- Debride Fibrous Tissue with a Rongeur
- Insert K-Wire Through Distal Phalanx and Distal Fracture Fragment
- Incision and Exposure
- Harvest Graft
- Graft Preparation and Donor Site Closure
- Place Graft into Fracture Site
- Advance K-Wire Through Graft, Proximal Fragment, and First Metacarpal
- Pack Graft with Cancellous Bone from Graft
Hi, good afternoon. I'm Dr. Rao from orthopaedics and I want to talk to you about a case that we are about to do. This is an 11-year-old female, who injured her thumb about a year ago, the fracture probably got infected, and she ended up with an established nonunion of the head of the proximal phalanx, of her dominant right thumb. When we saw her a few days ago she had a completely unstable thumb with a well-established nonunion, at the very distal end of the proximal phalanx. This nonunion would never heal by itself under any circumstances. She had a dysfunctional thumb, and we decided to operate on this patient. Dr. Perlmutter and I decided to go ahead with the bone grafting and internal fixation of this nonunion. We decided to use iliac crest bone graft because it is a round bone, it is osteogenic, and it has the best potential to facilitate healing of this nonunion. The basic surgical steps of this procedure as follows: the patient is anesthetized, we use a tourniquet on her upper arm to exsanguinate the limb and have a bloodless surgery. We will make a dorsal longitudinal incision, split the extensor mechanism, and dissect down to the nonunion site. We will then remove all fibrous tissue and nonviable bone from the nonunion. We will establish a gap at the nonunion site. Once we establish the dimensions of this gap, we will proceed to a harvest a bone graft from the opposite iliac crest. The bone graft will be bicortical in nature, which means it has cortex on the inside and outside. This will also facilitate stability of the bone graft. Once the bone graft is harvested, it will be trimmed to size and placed in the defect. We will try and make the graft as tight as possible so that it has an inference fit inside the nonunion site. The entire construct will then be fixed with a single K-wire inserted from the tip of the terminal phalanx to engage the proximal phalanx. Once this is done, we will close the incision anatomically, we will immobilize the digit in a splint and cast for several weeks until healing is established. Once healing is demonstrated, the K-wire will be pulled out, and the patient will be allowed to resume normal activity. We expect once healing is complete, and the patient is allowed to resume her usual activities, she will eventually regain full function in that thumb. This can take between 3 to 6 months.
Today we're operating on a little girl, that had fractured, sometime ago, perhaps a year, the distal end of the first bone in her thumb. It's her right thumb, her dominant right thumb. Her thumb is tilted over the edge. It's not functional, she can't hold anything with it. The joint is functionally dislocated. So the plan for today is to take a segment of bone from her pelvis, and move that up- a little small square of bone that we'll strategically fit right where it needs to be, very tightly, very snugly, to get the fracture fragments to heal. I'll direct your attention to the X-rays. The X-rays show that the distal fragment of bone that is attached to the distal phalanx, and they together have dislocated off of the fractured end of the bone. The end of the bone is very white because it's dead. And we'll end up resecting that because it won't have a good blood flow. And so we're going to create a little block of bone that will be about that big- between my fingers- we'll take that block of bone and fit it very square, as we center the end of the bone on the end of this shaft. The fragment of bone will sit there, so we'll have: her phalanx, distal phalanx, which that's the tip of her finger, then there will be the end of that fracture, then a block of bone, and then her native bones. And a single pin will go down through the end of this, through the distal end of the fracture fragment, into the graft that we're gonna harvest from the pelvis, and then into the shaft of this bone, and for stability, the pin will go into this bone, down here. The pin will stay in for 2 months. By then this child will certainly heal the fracture- hopefully heal the fracture. And then we'll start her on a play program, which will hopefully give her some function. The typical function of this joint is 90 degrees. If she gets stiff and she bends 45 degrees, that's a functional range of motion. If you look at a hand making a fist, that's about how much we need to- to function, and she'll certainly have that. It's rare that somebody has to bend 90 degrees to function normally. So we anticipate that the dominant hand is going to have perfectly normal functioning when we're done.
This is the beginning of our procedure. This is a little girl who had a fracture to her thumb through the growth plate of the distal phalanx, and the middle- and the proximal phalanx, I'm sorry. So... So there's a fracture, at the growth plate of the end of the proximal phalanx, or the first of the two bones in the thumb. And- what we're doing is taking the- an incision through the skin, and then through the extensor tendon. Our intent is to fuse that joint. It won't move. It's a floppy joint now. And there's no way to get that fracture to unite. So our intent is to fuse the joint. Rongeur, please? Her extensor tendon, yeah, it's kind of short. I mean that's the distal joint right there. That's the distal joint. Uh huh.
Okay. So, this is a tool that's a biter, it's called a Rongeur, and it's taking out all the fibrous tissue that grew between the fracture fragments. The goal is to expose bleeding bone here. It's very sclerotic. Yeah, it's just- I don't want to take off too much, I'm going to just... John, if you don't mind, can you look at the room temperature, please? If we're getting iliac crest graft, we might as well... Get a lot- clean it out. Yeah, it's all sclerotic bone. Yeah. Lose it all. So the bone at the end of the fragment is very hard, we call it sclerotic bone, it's very, very solid, it's marble like in its consistency. It has decreased blood flow, accordingly. So our intent is to go to her iliac crest of her pelvis... Flex that- bone site. So I can get to the... So I just bent the tip of the bone down to expose the fracture site. He's going to cut away some soft tissue now that may get stuck in our intended fusion site. Those are the origins of the collateral ligaments and other soft tissues. Now, lets see if she has anything I can use to open up the medullary canal. Do you have- how about a K-wire? Yeah. Uh- the K- the wire, the K-wire. The pins- the metal pins for the drill. So he's going to use this tool to bite it- all the nonliving bone off. I want to go to the distal fragment too soon. And now we're going to the distal fragment to clean off the base of it, which is covered in fibrous tissue. That fibrous tissue is scar tissue, and it will not let us- will not let the fractures heal to themselves. We have to expose raw bone to raw bone, as if it was a fresh fracture for it to heal together. Are you trying to make a cup? I'm just trying to get bone without destroying that small fragment. I think I've got bone exposed. I think you did. I'm going to have you make a big chunk, let's see how much defect you... A centimeter. Yeah, you can always take more. Oh, I'm going to take more. Okay. A centimeter by how deep? A centimeter by centimeter, just get a centimeter. If you can- what I'm looking for- cortex volar, cortex dorsal, and cancellous on either side. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
So here's her iliac crest bone. It was prepped out a head of time, and these little red dots are where we injected it with numbing medicine before we get started.
Do you need my help? No, I think I'm good. I'll take the Weitlaner in front of you. I don't have a Weitlaner. I'm only kidding (laughing), do you have Army-Navy's? Yeah. They have Weitlaners. Here. They do? Yeah. Do you want another one? One will do. Okay, so here's the iliac crest, and- Bovie. Do you have a Cobb elevator? I'll take a Cobb, and I don't want to use this- these Ray-Tec's. If I could- another sponge would be perfect. Sponge? Something bigger than this, so I can pack it a little bit. Sponge. So this is the top of the crest. Can you tell them we need a big sponge, like this- like this? Her periosteum is like shoe leather. Can we turn the coag up? At 11, how thick is her cartilage cap? We should be able to do this without any power. Are you on the inner table? I can't see from here. This is the inner table. Can I have another sponge, please? Can I show you a neat trick? Sure, I'll learn anything from you. All right, let's have that osteome and mallet.
Mallet. Take it off. She has some Hohmanns there, let's get those ones. Leave it there. Do you leave it in, put it back? Yeah. So Hohmann- Hohmann retractor. So, what you're looking at is the growth plate, cartilage cap here, and then the raw pelvic bone there. We're going to put that cartilage cap back on, so it continues to grow. All right. All right, I'll take that. Let go of that. All right, hold that. It just pulls out. Mallet. Number 1 Vicryl, numero 1, Vicryl. How do you say Vicryl? Vicryl. Vicryl? Okay. Okay, get me another one. Hohmann. Mallet. All right, now with your osteotome, just take a chunk of bone. Hold that. Kocher? This will free the whole thing now. I don't want to crush it, so go ahead and knock it out. This- it's out.
So what I'm doing now is I'm trimming the bone graft to size. He has the piece of graft that we just harvested from the iliac crest. Now he's trimming to size to fit the gap that we created when we cleaned out that bone. We have a specific space. Now we're trying to get that space to match perfectly, and so we're going to make a little block of bone that will fill that space where the fracture was broken, and un-unite it. And we'll put a pin through the end of the finger, through that fracture- including the fragment of iliac crest that we just moved there. And then that will heal- hopefully. And her body will heal it as if it was a freshly broken bone, and unite the distal end of that proximal phalanx, and preserve the joint motion. She'll certainly have some stiff motion, but as she develops, she may actually have a normal functional range of motion- or near normal, but certainly functional range of motion. I think we should point out that we are using her own bone, with like cells that will supply all the- the nutrients and the growth factors that facilitate union. Great point. Choices of bone graft, or bone filler, include artificial bone- that's commercially available, donor bone from people who've donated their hearts, and lungs, and kidneys for people who need them, also donate bone- that's called cadaver or allograft. And- then there's autograft, where people donate their own tissues to themselves for surgery. In this case, when you donate your own tissues, they are rich in the stem cells and the other growth factors that allow tissues to heal back to themselves. So using one's own tissue to patch a gap in that tissue, has a distinct advantage. The disadvantages of it are that you have to make an incision some place to harvest that tissue. In this case, it's a minimal- intervention- to treat a very significant problem- the dominant thumb in a child. Her pelvic bone will continue to develop normally, she will have no deficits from this whatsoever. The scar is in line with her skin folds, and once this is closed cosmetically, she may never have a scar that's visible out of her underwear line. If visible at all. So he's retracting the tissue there now, and sizing the graft. That will take a few moments, if he hasn't completed that already. I have just closed the fascia completely over- the pelvic bone. And all that remains is skin. The deep subcutaneous tissues first. If you close one layer, I'm going to have you come over and help here. Sounds like a deal. That's more pressing. One more throw, and I'm there. No more here. 3-0 Monocryl. I almost have the right size here. So he's plugging the hole with a cube of her bone. He wants it to be very, very tight. He's taking time to take little bits away at a time- because he wants the tension of the tissues to hold that, which is why we're not retracting it open for him, because it changes the tension of the tissues. He's going to snip away a little bit at a time- at a time- making it a little bit smaller.
What you can see- what he's done already is put a pin at the end of the finger. Not right this minute. We're going to put the pin across the fragments in a moment. Do you want me to drive it while you hold it? No, I just want to position it well before we try it. Yeah, I'm just saying. Yeah, okay, let's get the- K-wire driver and properly position it. That's the graft. That's the bone, and the pin is- you can see the pin- right there- before you grab it. Yeah. Let me extend. Okay, grab it.
You're not centered, so... I figured, I just want to close it a little bit. You're centered. I'm going to have you drill slowly so you're through the graft, but not into... Tell me when. Lift up your- a little bit. And go slow. Keep going. Stop. Now we're into the graft. Go. Stop. Go. Are you feeling bone? I am. Keep Going. Keep Going. 1, 3- do you see there? Yeah, keep going. Keep going. Do we need more bone? You might hit the base of the proximal phalanx. Yeah, but I think I'm there. Okay, then let's take this out. We're going to test it now to see the- challenge our fixation. Looks good. So there's no big gap- it's pretty stable. Do you want to drive it across? I do. Okay. So we're putting the pin into the next bone to give it greater stability. I'm touching the end of the other bone. Tell me when.
It's not going to get any better than that. No. The most time I do is put a little cancellous chips around it. I saved these right here as a matter of face. What he had said off the mic was that those little cancellous chips around- cancellous is the spongy bone on the inside. Those bone chips that we removed- see if she has them. And we're going to pack them- these in there to augment our healing capability. Trying to get it at the interface.
Now what we're going to do now- we have our natural bone, the lost bone- that's- we borrowed from her pelvis, was replaced from her pelvis. The end of that natural bone- so, that should all fuse as one bone. Under my pickups, is the distal phalanx of the thumb- the fragment that was broken that has the articular surface, our graft, and the remaining proximal part of the proximal phalanx. You want more in there? I can close her, if you want to take him and help. Yes. We're going to close the pelvis, okay? So, our host is going to close the remainder of the pelvic wound. 3-0, please.
So, we're going to try to hide the stitching, okay? So we're going to come under here, start- if I start deep like this, I'm going to just come through the edge of the skin, right? I don't want the fat because the fat doesn't hold anything, right? I don't want to come through the skin like that, I want to just grab that white. Okay. Then I'm going to go straight across, and we're going to- and I'm going to go into the white that I just exited before, right? I'm going to go- 90 degrees at it. I don't want to do this because I'll just skive a little piece. I want to catch a lot of it. See how I'm under the skin? And then I'm going to follow the curve of the needle, just by rotating it. See? You'll pull it together. So, go around twice to start. Grab the end. Only leave about 3 cm. And then- see the- it's all in line. And then- where did it go? Oh, there it is. Other way, and then go into it. So, you cross your hands, then go into it. And cross your hands, and then we can cut it. Now what he's sewing now is the extensor tendon. He split it to get exposure to the bone. He's sewing it together. Once the fracture heals, the extensor tendon will have healed well before then. Two months from now, we'll take out the pin. And once the pin is out, the fracture will be healed. Okay now, pull it through. Leave about 3 cm. The fracture will be healed, the extensor tendon will be healed, hopefully there will be little scar tissue binding everything together, and she'll start moving her thumb. And as she grows, she should have a straight thumb that's functional. She won't bend 90 degrees like mine is bending now on the video, probably, but if she bends just 45 degrees, and it's straight, and its strong, she'll be extremely functional. Could I show you one more? You did an excellent job with that. Let's put one right next to where you put yours. They opened up on their own. See how I could see through the skin? Now I'm just gonna rotate my- I'm just going to rotate my wrist, and it shows up. Doesn't mean I can retrieve it with these- clamps. Now, here's what I want to show you. It's important that they're both on the same side. See how I put them on opposite sides? So we want- we want to get them- both strings on the same side- like that. Oh, okay. But see how that comes together nice? So, you go around twice, right? Keep- see how I keep the needle in my hand? And- and then I can- still keeping that pinched, I can use my middle finger now to pinch. And then we- see how I can just pull it in? Oh, okay. But I'm not- I'm not doing this, right? With the big thing. So after the tendon is closed, he's going to close the skin in a few layers. Then we're going to cut the pin. That's a big pin to bend, I bet we just cut it. Maybe he can bend it. We'll put a nice, padded dressing on her, and the dressing will include a plaster splint to give it extra support. We'll keep it immobilized, as I said, for 6 to 8 weeks- probably 8. It'll definitely be stiff, but with growth she might- get a- and I anticipate she will get a functional range of motion- she won't do this, but she can still do this. Now, let me show you how to close the sub-Q. Where's the needle? In your hand? Okay, I want to start it, and then you finish it, okay? Good. These open up on their own, don't they? Mm hmm. Yeah. A little springy. You come into the corner. Let me steal those from you. So this is only in that white layer, okay? Nothing in fat. Only in the white. So look- just get a visualization, come straight across, right? Right where I came- cut across. You go horizontal and out the white layer. Okay? And you follow that- see how it closes pretty? Yeah. That's what you wanna do, no- you don't have to get big ones. It's tedious, but just walk it all the way down. Right before the corners. Nothing to grab, so just guess- guess well though. You can see the tip- good, good, you got it! Yay! Follow the curve of the needle, but you gotta pull- pull out, yeah. Okay, now see? Now- if you just- if you ended it there, you'd have a gap, right? Now go into the corner on the other side- and then come out- yeah, come out here. So, the premise of a Steri-Strip, or tapes like this, is if you take the- if you take the tension off of this suture line, and spread it out from here to here, the scar has less tension on it and it will heal prettier. It'll stay together more. See how I'm pulling it like this? I want to lay that down, and that takes tension off the suture. Okay. We'll put this down- a nonstick dressing because if it bleeds through, the cotton will stick to it, and then it pulls this off. Okay, drapes down. Tape. Tape.
So, I'm just done with the operation. You just saw the procedure where we- exposed the nonunion of the proximal phalanx of the right thumb, and inserted a bicortical piece of iliac crest- autogenous graft, fixed with a single K-wire. The critical steps of the operation, again, are to establish the site on nonunion, thoroughly debride the site of all fibrous tissue and nonviable bone, and then use the patient's own iliac crest as a bone graft with a tight interference fit. The bone graft should be shaped so that it fits in that space without any bone voids as such. The fixation with a K-wire is really supplemental and aids in the healing of this nonunion. We do an anatomic closure, as you saw. The thumb will be immobilized in a splint or a cast for about 6 to 8 weeks at least, until healing is evident. I expect with the surgery that you just saw, that the patient will have an excellent outcome once she has completely healed and rehabilitated.