Dr. Bobby Chhabra, an endowed chair of orthopedic surgery of the University of Virginia Health System, has focused much of his career on the study and treatment of congenital hand deformities. Since completing a fellowship in hand, microvascular, and congenital hand surgery at the Hand Center of San Antonio, Dr. Bobby Chhabra has presented and taught extensively on the treatment of such abnormalities, including thumb duplication.
Thumb duplication presents as a congenital deformity that causes the development of two thumbs on one hand. Also known as pre-axial polydactyly or radial polydactyly, it most typically results in the division of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other structural elements between the two thumbs. The thumbs appear fused and are most often smaller than normal.
Thumb duplication requires surgical intervention to correct, although the particular surgical plan will vary, depending on the needs of the individual child. The operation itself is typically done between the ages of 12 and 24 months, when the child’s body can more easily cope with surgery. In most cases, surgeons remove one of the two thumbs and reconstruct the remaining digit to be more fully functional. Most children develop normal or close to normal function in the reconstructed thumb, although occupational or physical therapy may be necessary.