Digital sensibility following replantation

Richard H. Gelberman, James R. Urbaniak, Donald S. Bright, L. Scott Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Abstract The amputated digit serves as an excellent model for the examination of digital nerve repair. When amputation is complete, there is no question of cross-over or anomalous innervation. The sensibility of 35 replanted digits in 29 patients was evaluated. Sensory return was related most closely to restored digital vascularity, as measured by Allen test, pulse volume flow, and Doppler. Level of amputation, mechanism of injury, and age of patient also affected ultimate sensation. All patients experienced cold intolerance and some were considerably disabled because of it. The severity of cold intolerance with pain and requiring prolonged rewarming was directly proportional to digital vascularity. When one digital artery thrombosed, ipsilateral digital sensation was not diminished as long as flow through the contralateral vessel was adequate. Two-point discrimation in our series was not as good as that reported for digital nerve repair in the nonamputated digit. Establishing and maintaining adequate digital flow at the time of replantation is essential to obtain good digital sensibility and to avoid symptoms of cold intolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1978


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