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What Is Symbrachydactyly?

Babies with symbrachydactyly (sim-brak-ih-DAK-tuh-lee) are born with short, often webbed fingers. Some might be missing fingers.

Symbrachydactyly usually affects just one hand or foot. Sometimes the forearm is short too.

What Causes Symbrachydactyly?

Symbrachydactyly develops before a baby is born. The arm starts as a small limb bud or bump from the body of the baby. Blood vessels help support growth in the limb bud. In babies with symbrachydactyly, the hand does not form completely. Experts think that is because of decreased blood flow to the limb bud as it develops.

Any baby can be born with symbrachydactyly. It does not run in families.

Most babies who have symbrachydactyly do not have other health problems. But some also have a condition called Poland syndrome in which part of the chest muscles are underdeveloped.

How Is Symbrachydactyly Diagnosed?

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

Doctors do X-rays to see how the bones are formed. Sometimes they do other tests, like an MRI, to see details of the parts of the hand and forearm. These tests help surgeons decide what kind of treatment, if any, is needed.

How Is Symbrachydactyly Treated?

Mild symbrachydactyly doesn't need treatment. In other cases, surgery can be done to help divide and form the fingers. Often, a child needs more than one surgery.

What Else Should I Know?

Almost all children with symbrachydactyly can do the usual things that other kids do. Occupational therapy (OT) and home exercises can be very helpful.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: Oct 1, 2023

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