Nonvascularized Toe Joint Transfers to the Hand in Young Children: Technique Revisited

Jeffrey G. Trost, Matthew Kaufman, David T. Netscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Small joint reconstruction of the hand poses a significant challenge, especially in children where both functional motion and preservation of the epiphysis are desired. Auto-transplantation of whole joints is the only way to reconstruct a functional joint that maintains growth potential. Historically, nonvascularized toe-to-finger joint transfer has been criticized for high rates of avascular necrosis and joint dissolution, while vascularized transfers seemingly resulted in increased durability of the joint space and epiphysis. However, certain populations remain poor candidates for microvascular reconstruction, such as those with congenital deformities or sequelae from trauma or infection. In our case series, we demonstrate that a simplified nonvascularized surgical technique and careful patient selection can produce stable, functional joints. Methods: Nonvascularized toe-to-finger joint transfer was performed in 3 children between the ages of 4 and 6. Reconstructed joints included 2 proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints and 1 metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. Donor grafts consisted of second toe PIP joints harvested en bloc to include the epiphysis of the middle phalanx, collateral ligaments, volar plate, and a diamond-shaped island of extensor tendon with its central slip attachment. Results: Follow-up ranged from 7 to 29 months. Each patient demonstrated functional improvements in joint motion and stability. Postoperative radiographs confirmed adequate joint alignment and persistence of the joint spaces. Epiphyseal closure was observed in 1 patient as early as 25 months postoperatively. Conclusions: Nonvascularized joint transfer should remain a practical consideration for small joint reconstruction of the hand in certain pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-683
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • anatomy
  • autograft
  • basic science
  • congential
  • diagnosis
  • digits
  • hand
  • pediatric
  • specialty
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonvascularized Toe Joint Transfers to the Hand in Young Children: Technique Revisited'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this