Empty Toe is a Devastating Injury
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Degloving injuries are injuries that typically result in complete disruption of the skin on top of the soft tissue. Serious degloving injuries could also lead to the loss of tissue that lives underneath the skin. There are many different ways that a degloving injury can occur, ranging from sports to auto accidents. For example, people who go rock climbing could slip. If their hand scrapes down a rock, a piece of skin could catch on the rock and be ripped from one or more of their fingers. Degloving injuries could also occur in motorcycle accidents. When someone falls off their motorcycle, they could scrape along the pavement and suffer a degloving injury through extremity trauma to one or more of their limbs. Sometimes called road rash, this is a major skin injury because it has the potential to lead to serious infections. These infections have easy access to soft tissue where they can set up shop and cause a massive infection. Some of these infections could even be flesh-eating bacteria that can lead to an amputation injury on top of any bone fractures that have already occurred.
Closed Degloving Injuries are Possible
While unusual, it is possible for someone to suffer from a closed degloving injury. In this case, the skin on top of the tissue remains undisturbed. However, the soft tissue underneath the skin has been separated from the rest of the structures underneath. This can lead to damage to bones, blood vessels, ligaments, and nerves. Among the various types of closed degloving injuries, it is possible for someone to develop empty toe. Empty toe typically presents with an obvious deformity in the toe. However, it can be difficult to see what kind of damage has been done underneath because the skin is intact. Very few case reports regarding this injury have been published and, recently, a team of medical professionals published a new case report of empty toe to add to the literature.
An Empty Toe Injury
A case report describes a 20-year-old patient who injured her toe while riding a scooter. She fell from her vehicle and sustained a serious injury to her left foot pinky toe. Examination in the emergency department showed an obvious anatomical issue with her toe. She was taken for scans that did not reveal any bone fracture. The medical team decided to position the toe back in the proper location. However, the skin had already been detached from the soft tissue underneath. Therefore, the blood vessels and nerves were no longer connected to the surface of the skin. Without any of the nutrients from the blood vessels, the skin became starved and the patient developed gangrene. This is a serious infection that results from skin that is unable to receive the nutrients that it needs to stay alive and fight off infection. If not treated quickly, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. This led to an amputation of the patient’s pinky toe. The patient eventually made a recovery. This case report demonstrates the progression of an empty toe injury that results from extreme force and damage to the nerves and blood vessels underneath.
The Lessons Learned from the Case Report
While the injury was diagnosed quickly, the limited amount of information available on empty toe made it difficult for the medical team to make decisions regarding the treatment of the injury. They decided to place the toe back in the proper position. However, the skin was already not viable due to the loss of the vascular supply. Perhaps, if this was diagnosed sooner, the patient could have undergone removal of the injury site at an earlier time, leading to a more positive outcome. More information is needed regarding this serious injury that often leads to an amputation. It can be difficult for patients to fund this type of medical treatment on their own. Those who are injured in accidents and develop empty toe should know that there might be legal options available to help pay for the medical care and recovery process.
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