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