Dupuytren’s disease is a condition where scar-like tissue forms just beneath the skin of the fingers and the palm of the hand. Over time, this fibrous tissue can contract and force one or more fingers to curl up into the palm. This is known as Dupuytren’s contracture.
How does Dupuytren’s contracture happen?
The reason why fibrous nodules and bands of tissue form is not fully understood. It used to be thought that the disease was caused by heavy manual work, but this is not the case.
Dupuytren’s contracture is more common in men than women and it tends to run in families. It is sometimes associated with diabetes, liver disease or smoking. However, most sufferers have no particular risk factors. If one or more fingers develop contractures that interfere with the hand function, your surgeon may recommend an operation.
What are the benefits of surgery?
The only effective treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture is surgery. There is no effective drug treatment available. Wearing a splint on the affected hand does not stop the disease from getting worse.
After surgery, you should be able to make better use of your hand and straighten the affected fingers more.
What does the surgery involve?
You should remove any rings from the hand before you come into hospital.
Your surgeon will discuss with you before the operation how much surgery you are likely to need. This depends on the position and severity of the Dupuytren’s contracture, the condition of the skin and if you have had any previous surgery.
The surgery can range from simply cutting a fibrous band in the palm of your hand to removing all of the affected skin and replacing it with skin grafts.
At the end of the operation your surgeon will close the skin with stitches. They will put your hand in bandages or a plaster cast.
What should I do about my medication?
You should continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.
Let your surgeon know if you are on warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs, as these are more likely to cause you to bleed after your operation. Follow your surgeon’s advice about stopping this medication before the operation.
What is the recovery time?
You will be able to go home later the same day. A responsible adult should take you home in a car or taxi, and stay with you for at least 24 hours. You will need support for a few days.
After the operation you may have a plaster of Paris splint and you should keep your hand lifted up in a sling or on a pillow next to you when you are in bed.
You may be referred to the Occupational Therapist who will make a splint to wear on your hand at night, and you will be given some stretching exercises to get the joints moving again. It is also important to exercise your shoulder and elbow gently to prevent stiffness.
For further information on any surgical procedures or
to book a consultation, please contact us at:
Fitzwilliam Clinic, 70-72 Lisburn Road, Belfast
Tel: 028 9032 3888