Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page


What Is Polydactyly?

Polydactyly (pol-ee-DAK-tuh-lee) is when a baby is born with an extra finger on the hand or an extra toe on the foot. It can be on one or both hands or feet.

Polydactyly usually happens on the pinky finger side of the hand or little toe side of the foot (called "post-axial"). Less often, it happens on the thumb or big toe side ("pre-axial"). Rarely, it can be central or in the middle of the hand or foot. The extra digit is usually smaller than the other fingers or toes.

What Causes Polydactyly?

Polydactyly happens before a baby is born. When a baby's hands and feet are first forming, they're shaped like mittens. Then the fingers or toes form. If an extra finger or toe forms, this causes polydactyly.

Who Gets Polydactyly?

Any baby can be born with polydactyly. Post-axial polydactyly can run in families.

Most babies who have polydactyly do not have other health problems. But sometimes, it happens as part of a genetic syndrome .

How Is Polydactyly Diagnosed?

Polydactyly may be seen before birth on an ultrasound. Otherwise, doctors diagnose it when the baby is born.

Sometimes doctors do X-rays to see if the extra digit has bones and joints. This helps the surgeon decide what kind of treatment is needed.

How Is Polydactyly Treated?

Treatment for polydactyly depends on the location of the digit on the hand or foot and how it is formed. An extra pinky or little toe that is connected with a thin stalk can be removed easily, sometimes right in the surgeon's office with a surgical clip or stitch.

Extra thumbs, big toes, or middle fingers or toes that contain bones and/or joints need surgery in the hospital.

Looking Ahead

Because surgery for polydactyly is usually done when a baby is young, most kids learn to use their hands and walk without problems. If needed, occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), and home exercises can help a child with this.

Reviewed by: Jennifer M. Ty, MD
Date Reviewed: Jun 1, 2018

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.