Complications in the 2-Year Postoperative Period Following Pediatric Syndactyly Release

Kelly E. Edwards, Nicholas P Gannon, Susan A. Novotny, Ann E. Van Heest, Deborah C. Bohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Syndactyly surgical release is one of the most common congenital hand surgeries performed by pediatric hand surgeons. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the complications associated with syndactyly release and determine factors that correlate with higher complication rates within the 2-year postoperative period. Methods: A retrospective chart review was completed for patients who underwent syndactyly release at a single pediatric center between 2005 and 2018. Patients were included if they had a diagnosis of syndactyly and underwent surgical release, and excluded for a diagnosis of cleft hand, incomplete surgical documentation, surgery performed at an outside institution, or follow-up care that did not extend beyond the first postoperative visit. Complications were classified using the Clavien-Dindo (CD) system. Results: Fifty-nine patients met the inclusion criteria, which included 143 webs released in 85 surgeries. A total of 27 complications occurred for the 85 surgeries performed. The severity of complications was CD grade I or II in 23% of surgeries, most commonly unplanned cast changes, and CD grade III in 8% of surgeries. No CD grade IV or V complications occurred. The CD grade III complications included 6 reoperations. The complication rate was higher when performing >1 syndactyly release per surgery. It also was higher for patients undergoing >1 surgical event. Rates of complication per surgery were similar between patients with multiple surgeries compared with those with a single surgery. Concomitant diagnoses and complexity of syndactyly was not associated with a higher complication rate. Conclusions: Syndactyly release was associated with a complication rate of 31% per surgical event with 44% of these complications related to unplanned cast changes and 8% of complications that required admission or reoperation. Risk factors for complications following syndactyly release include >1web operated on per surgery and undergoing >1 surgical event. Type of Study/level of evidence: Prognosis IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
StateE-pub ahead of print - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Society for Surgery of the Hand


  • Congenital hand differences
  • pediatric hand surgery
  • postoperative complications
  • syndactyly
  • syndactyly release

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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