Purpose: The treatment of radial longitudinal deficiency (RLD) is highly variable without clear guidelines in the literature. The current study investigated variability among hand surgeons in treatment approaches for RLD patients with anomalies of the thumb and forearm. Methods: An online survey was distributed to 105 self-identified North American pediatric hand surgeons and 23 international pediatric hand surgeons. The survey was developed after consideration of the controversies in RLD treatment. Variations in diagnostic approach, timing of treatment, surgical indications, and surgical techniques were presented in a 21-question survey. Results: Seventy-four (57.8%) surgeons completed the survey. For type 2 hypoplastic thumb reconstruction, 81% of surgeons prefer the flexor digitorum superficialis transfer with others using the abductor digiti minimi transfer. Ninety-four percent and 100% of surgeons favored pollicization for type 3B and type 4 hypoplastic thumb, respectively. When performing pollicization, 88% of surgeons strive for tip-to-tip pinch, with 50% preferring 100° rotation and 38% greater than 120°, compared with 12% who preferred tip-to-side pinch. Nearly half of surgeons stated they would not recommend pollicization for a patient with a stiff index finger who utilizes ulnar prehension. Ninety percent of surgeons preferred observation for a type 1 radius. Type 2 treatment preferences were highly variable, the most common response being radius lengthening. For type 3/4 radius deficiency, surgeons were divided between soft tissue release with bilobed flap and centralization (42% and 36%, respectively). If radial deviation could not be passively corrected, 63% preferred an external fixator for soft tissue distraction before centralizing. Ulnar prehension functional pattern changed treatment for 45% of surgeons in type 3/4 radius. Conclusions: This study provides information on areas of agreement and disagreement in the treatment of RLD. Specifically, there was consensus for treatment of types 3B and 4 thumbs and type 1 radius. Consensus was lacking for the amount of rotation in positioning of the pollicized digit, the role of pollicization with the stiff index finger, and also in the treatment of types 2, 3, or 4 radius. Clinical relevance: This study provides a framework to establish treatment guidelines for thumb hypoplasia and RLD and has identified areas lacking consensus and that require additional study.
- Radial longitudinal deficiency