Finger Amputations

Finger amputations may sound small but they really cause a lot of changes in the way the patient performs certain activities, such as punching the buttons on a phone or using a keyboard. This is why the surgeon will attempt to put the finger back on if it is severed from the hand.

When a finger is initially severed, the bystander should wrap the amputated finger in moist, cool gauze. The finger should not be immersed in water because it can become waterlogged. Simply use a paper towel if you have no medical gauze. Put the finger on ice with a Ziploc bag. Do not use dry ice for this part of the process. If there will be an attempt to reimplant the finger, there should be immediate medical attention with a surgeon who can put arteries, veins and nerves back together. The time from amputation to reimplantation should be less than 12 hours.

The finger should not be reattached if it has become crushed, contaminated or mangled. Injuries of just one finger often mean that it does not have to be reimplanted. Injuries at the base of the finger are far harder to recover from than injuries partway up the finger. Fingertip injuries should also not be reattached.

Children with severed fingers should have an attempt at a reattachment. Thumb injuries and injuries with multiple digits involved should have an attempt at reattachment. Fingers in which the chances of success are good should have a shot at reattachment.

One study looked at finger amputations that were not work-related. Finger amputation data was obtained between 2001 and 2002 from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program. It represents 66 hospitals in the US. They found 948 cases of finger amputations that were not work related. It included both partial amputations and complete amputations. They determined that there is an annual number of 30,673 non work related amputations. Of these, about 27,886 incidences involved amputations of one or more fingers. Almost twenty percent were transferred to a specialized trauma care facility.

Most victims were male at a 3 to 1 ratio with women. Interestingly, the highest rate of finger amputations occurred in children who were younger than age 5 years. The rate was 18.8 per 100,000 population, followed by adults between the ages of 55 go 64 years who sustained finger injuries at a rate of 14.9 per 100,000 population. Kids who were 4 years of age or younger often sustained their injuries as a result of contact with a door (73 percent). For adults older than 55 years, they had their injuries as a result of power tools about 47 percent of the time.

The research study indicated that the very young and the relatively old were at the highest risk for finger amputations. Where children are involved, there should be responsible adults watching where their children’s hands and fingers are when doors are shut. This includes the open part of the door and the part of the door which is hinged.