Mumbai docs reattach severed thumb with complex surgery

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Dr Nilesh G Sathbhai with patient after re-attaching the thumb

 Rohit Shishodia
Doctors have managed to re-attach the severed thumb of the  left hand of a 42-year-old man by performing a complex microvascular surgery at Mumbai's Global Hospitals.

Mr Rohan's hand was stuck in the chain while cleaning his bike. The engine was on during the cleaning of the bike. As a result, a part of his thumb was chopped off. He pulled back his hand, but the distal half of his thumb was completely amputated and avulsed.

Dr. Nilesh G Satbhai, Head of Department - Plastic, Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery and Transplant Surgery, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, said, “Rohan’s case is not an isolated incident. We get several cases of youngsters or bike enthusiasts who come for finger crush injuries, total or near-total amputations owing to bike chain related accidents."

"If people manage to preserve the amputated part and reach the hospital on time, we can reconstruct the digits or re-attach the detached fingers with the help of microvascular surgery," he said.

After reaching the hospital Rohan was immediately prepared for surgery and shifted to the operation theatre. The completely amputated part of the left thumb was re-attached to its original position by a complex surgery using an operating microscope.

"All the important structures were dissected, identified, and prepared on both the patient's side and the amputated part. The bones were fixed using a stainless-steel wire.  The blood vessels of the thumb (artery and veins) were then connected to each other to restore the blood circulation of the amputated part of the thumb," said Dr G Sathbhai.

He further said the blood vessels at this level are very tiny (often less than 1 mm in diameter). The threads (sutures) required to join these blood vessels are much thinner than human hair and are barely visible to naked eyes. Hence, such procedures can only be performed under the operating microscope, he explained.

"The nerves and tendons were then repaired. Reconstructive Microsurgery aims to restore the normal form and function of the body part to its maximum extent," said Dr. Nilesh Sathbhai.

The patient was monitored closely over the next week to ensure that the replanted thumb remained viable. Having recovered without any complications he was discharged after a week.

“During the bi-monthly cleaning of my bike, which I do myself, I had my bike’s engine on. This resulted in the cleaning cloth getting stuck in the chain. As I tried to pull the cloth out my finger got trapped as well. I was stunned by the pain and sight of blood. However, on the ground, I saw the part of the thumb that had been cut off," said Mr Rohan.

A timely surgery performed by the hospital saved my thumb. I am thankful to the doctors who helped restore my quality of life this New Year. I advise bike lovers like me to be cautious while cleaning their vehicles or get it done from a professional," said Rohan pointing out the risks untrained hands take when cleaning their vehicles.


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