Pollicization Surgery

Also known as: pollicization, thumb reconstruction, thumb hypoplasia.

What is pollicization surgery?

Pollicization is a type of hand surgery used to treat a missing or underdeveloped thumb. The presence of an opposable thumb allows the digits to grasp and manipulate objects. Pollicization involves creating a thumb from an existing finger, usually the index finger.  It is one option for thumb reconstruction and is generally reserved for patients who are not candidates for toe-to-hand transfers.

What happens during the procedure?
The patient is placed under general anesthesia. Through a series of intricate steps, the index finger is shortened and rotated into the base of the hand at the usual position of the thumb.

Is any special preparation needed? 
The patient will need to avoid food, drink and medications prior to the procedure.

What are the risk factors? 
Infection, bleeding, damage to surrounding organs and tissues or failure of the thumb to function properly are potential risks of pollicization surgery. In general, however, this procedure works well and allows the hand to function much better than a thumbless hand.

Reviewed by: Aaron J Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: 5/8/2018 9:25:49 AM

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Chad Perlyn, MD is a pediatric plastic surgeon and Co-Director of the operating room at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.