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News Releases

For Immediate Release

New Hand Surgery Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Offers Advanced Treatment for Traumatic Injuries from Fireworks

Every summer around the Fourth of July holiday several children are admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh with devastating hand injuries - including severe burns and the loss of fingers - caused by fireworks.

These injuries often require advanced and complex surgery to repair damage to skin, tendons, bones, nerves and blood vessels, as well as to reattach missing fingers or limbs. Children's has established a new Pediatric Hand Surgery Center that offers the comprehensive care required to treat and rehabilitate patients with traumatic and devastating hand injuries.

In 2004, two patients admitted to Children's with fireworks-related injuries suffered severe hand trauma from holding fireworks that exploded. All fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal in Pittsburgh.

"A common scenario is that a young child lights a firecracker and it explodes before he or she can throw it," said Joseph E. Losee, MD, chief of Plastic Surgery at Children's and assistant professor of plastic surgery and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "These explosives do a great deal of damage and often blow off fingers or part of the hand. Now, we are able to offer a unique center in this region where highly specialized plastic surgeons can repair that damage."

Children can also suffer burns to the hands and face, and damage to the eyes from fireworks, even sparklers, which burn at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and easily burn a child's skin or ignite clothing.

"Even though we see relatively few fireworks injuries, the injuries we do treat are so devastating and can last a lifetime," said Barbara A. Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Trauma Program at Children's and an assistant professor of pediatric surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "We recommend families enjoy the professional fireworks displays."

Because many of the fireworks-related traumas include the loss of fingers or hands, the Hand Surgery Center at Children's is uniquely qualified to treat these injuries. The center is led by nationally recognized hand surgery specialists W.P. Andrew Lee, MD, and Kodi K. Azari, MD. They provide state-of-the-art surgical services for patients with traumatic hand injuries as well as for patients with congenital deformities. These cutting-edge procedures include reattachment and reconstructive operations like toe-to-hand transfers.

"By offering a comprehensive program that involves surgery, rehabilitation and social work, we are able to help these children regain use of their fingers and hands following injuries that might otherwise cause the permanent disfigurement," Dr. Azari said. "These procedures involve some of the most advanced techniques available."

Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 18, 2008
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Last Update
February 18, 2008