Congenital Hand Anomalies

Our hands play a tremendously important role in daily life. Even as toddlers we have begun using them to literally get a grasp of the world around us and evolution has shaped, among other things, the thumbs on those very hands to contribute to what makes us the way we are today. However, the development of our hands in the womb is a highly complex process prone to difficulties. Therefore, deformities or malformations of the hands and/or feet can occur in the widest range of forms. These deformities can occur as isolated cases or as part of more complex malformations. They can appear spontaneously, which means accidentally in the development stage of the embryo, or can be hereditary.

Hand anomalies can be detected and diagnosed in the womb using ultrasound. Should any be detected, it is unfortunately then common for the pregnancy to be terminated despite usually being able to have the anomaly corrected to a good degree and the child being able to develop almost as normal. In order to prevent the negative consequences of congenital hand and foot anomalies and to foster optimum conditions for healthy development, it is of utmost importance to ascertain the right time for the usually necessary surgical correction to be performed. Therefore, as soon as possible after birth, parents of affected children should visit a hand surgeon specializing in congenital anomalies. In addition, if there are also heart or skull anomalies to be operated on, these should also be factored into the timeframe of the hand surgery.

Occasionally, it is also sensible to consult a specialist in genetics to ascertain whether the anomaly could have a risk of recurrence in future births.


Congenital hand anomalies include, e.g., syndactyly, brachysyndactyly, cleft hand and polydactyly.
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