Syndactyly (Webbed Fingers and Toes)

Syndactyly is a condition when one or more fingers or toes don't separate during fetal development. When the child is born, they have fused or webbed digits.

It's one of the most common congenital malformations of the limbs.


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What Is Syndactyly?

Syndactyly is the term to describe fused or joined fingers or toes. It occurs in up to 1 out of every 2,000 births and mostly affects the fingers.

Either skin or bone connects the child's digits, either fully or partly.

In many cases, pediatric hand surgeons can perform corrective surgery to separate the fingers or toes early in a child's life.

Syndactyly causes

There is no single reason why syndactyly occurs.

Sometimes, a parent may pass the condition on to their child. In some cases, webbed fingers or toes are a symptom of a genetic syndrome, such as Apert syndrome.

But for most children, there's no apparent cause.

Syndactyly Symptoms and Diagnosis

Syndactyly symptoms

Symptoms of this condition range from minor to severe.

Fingers or toes may join or fuse together:

  • By skin and soft tissue.
  • By bone.
  • Partially or completely.
  • Syndactyly diagnosis

In some cases, doctors diagnose syndactyly before birth through an ultrasound. But, most often a diagnosis occurs after a child is born.

Your doctor may x-ray your baby to learn the extent of the fusion. They may also order DNA testing to find out if it's related to a genetic syndrome.

Syndactyly Treatment

If your child has syndactyly, the doctor will wait until they're 18 to 24 months old before performing corrective surgery. But your child may need surgery sooner, before they fully develop, to prevent joint problems.

It's vital to have the doctor assess your child early to help decide on the best timing for surgery.

The surgeon will do a physical exam and study your child's x-rays to figure out how to best separate the digits.