Mumbai doctors reattach boy’s thumb in 6-hr surgery
A 12-year-old boy has regained 50% of his thumb movement a month after it was severed and doctors at Mumbai’s Wockhardt Hospital performed a six-hour replantation surgery at midnight to reattach it. With the Covid-19 protocol in place, doctors in personal protective equipment (PPE) performed the delicate surgery, which involved connecting minuscule veins under a high-tech microscope.
The boy was playing badminton with his friends when the shuttlecock landed on a tree on May 28 at Boisar in Maharashtra’s Palghar district. While removing it, his right thumb got stuck in a wire and was severed.
“...he was completely traumatised from the accident. We immediately called our family physician, who instructed us to rush to a hospital and preserve the thumb in a plastic bag with ice,” said the boy’s father.
The boy underwent a rapid antigen test for Covid-19, which came negative. But considering the efficiency rate of the test, doctors chose to conduct the operation with PPE. “In such cases, it is essential to operate...at the earliest as the cells in the cut-off portion start dying. So, we performed the six-hour-long surgery and the entire procedure under a microscope wearing PPE,” said Dr Sushil Nehete, a plastic, and reconstructive microsurgeon. “It was quite challenging as we had to connect the tiny veins under the microscope with face shields. So, we had to be extra cautious but also had to act fast to save the thumb.”
The surgeons joined vessels to restore blood supply. Nerves linked to sensation, and tendons needed to bend and extend fingers were also joined after fixing the bone with a metal wire. “The impact of the injury was so severe that he required a piece of the vein to repair the artery. Each and every structure of the thumb was repaired. This surgery aims to restore the normal form and function of the thumb to a maximum extent,” said Nehete.
Doctors said with regular physiotherapy, the boy’s thumb will be fully functional.
Dr Leena Jain, a plastic and reconstructive microsurgeon who was part of the medical team that conducted the surgery, said it is possible to re-attach or reconstruct detached fingers if people manage to preserve them and reach the hospital on time for surgery. “This patient was fortunate enough to reach the hospital within 3.5 hours after the injury and wisely brought his amputated part in a well-preserved condition.”