Today we are going to talk about Syndactyly. What? You’ve never hear of it? It is a normal condition that affects males more than females. There is a thought that it is a hereditary condition but it can also seem to develop without any family history.
So… I haven’t exactly explained it, have I? Syndactyly is the name of the condition that we would commonly call webbed toes. Yes, webbed toes. It is thought that webbed toes happen in one out of every 2,000 births. The toes most commonly webbed are the second and third toes
When a baby is developing, at first the hands and feet do not have distinct fingers and toes. About the sixth or seventh week of development, fingers and toes start to form. Sometimes this process does not completely separate the digits and they remain webbed. The condition is generally found on ultrasounds prior to birth or is diagnosed at birth.
There is not a known reason for someone to develop syndactyly. Sometimes it can be hereditary but not necessarily. Syndactyly is also associated with some genetic disorders. Webbed toes and fingers can be found in genetic disorders that can cause abnormal growth or the bones in the hands and feet like Down syndrome and Apert syndrome.
Webbing can be classified into the following types of webbing.
Incomplete: There is some partial webbing between the toes usually just to the first joint
Complete: The skin is connected all the way up the toes (this is extremely rare)
Simple: The toes are connected just by tissue
Complex: The toes are connected by both soft tissue and hard tissue like bone or cartilage
Complicated: The toes are connected by soft and hard tissue in an irregular shape. With complicated webbing, there may be missing bones.
Fenestrated: The toes are connected for most of the toe but there is a portion not connected in the middle.
Polysyndactyly: When there is an extra toe that is webbed to an adjacent toe.
Mild forms of the Syndactyly are not treated. This can lead to some embarrassment and self-esteem issues for people. The only option for treatment is surgery. The surgical treatment can be very complicated depending upon the severity of the webbing. Even the simplest of surgeries involves skin grafts to create the skin between the toes. There is a possibility that the webbing may grow back.