Thumb in the Plane of the Hand: Characterization and Results of Surgical Treatment

Jakub S. Langer, Paul R. Manske, Jennifer A. Steffen, Calvin Hu, Charles Goldfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this retrospective investigation is to characterize a congenital deformity, the thumb in the plane of the hand (TPH), and to evaluate the results of abduction-rotation osteotomy of the thumb metacarpal with thumb web space deepening (WSD). Methods: We performed a comprehensive analysis of the medical records, hand therapy notes, and radiographs to evaluate clinical features of the TPH deformity. We evaluated clinical and radiographic outcomes and incidence of deformity recurrence after abduction-rotation osteotomy and thumb WSD. Results: Thirteen patients (7 girls and 6 boys) with 14 affected hands treated with an abduction-rotation osteotomy of the thumb metacarpal and formation of a deepened thumb-index web space met inclusion criteria. All TPH deformities were associated with other congenital conditions, including symbrachydactyly, syndactyly, central deficiency, and ulnar deficiency. During the course of treatment, patients had a mean of 4 surgeries per hand; 3 hands required osteotomy revision with or without revision WSD, and 6 additional hands required revision of thumb WSD alone. None of the affected hands were capable of thumb opposition to any finger before surgery, whereas after surgery, all 14 hands could actively perform key pinch, and 9 of the 14 hands could actively oppose the thumb to at least 1 finger. Conclusions: The TPH deformity occurs in association with other congenital abnormalities of the hand. An abduction-rotation osteotomy of the thumb metacarpal with thumb WSD can restore thumb opposition and improve function; nonetheless, multiple surgical procedures are often required, and thumb function may remain limited. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1795-1801
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Five-fingered hand
  • osteotomy
  • plane of hand
  • rotation
  • thumb


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