Q:

How do you treat a finger when the tip is cut off?

A:

Quick Answer

When a fingertip is cut off, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises covering the wound, immobilizing the wrist and hand with a splint, elevating the hand and applying ice. The amputated part should be cleaned with water, wrapped in gauze and placed in a plastic bag, which should be placed on ice.

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Full Answer

The patient and his amputated part should be transported to the emergency room, where the doctor will examine and clean the wound. He may X-ray the hand and administer anesthetics, antibiotics and a tetanus shot, according to the AAOS.

If the tissue loss is minor, the wound may close on its own. Treatment involves use of protective dressings, finger soaks and range-of-motion exercises, explains the AAOS. Healing takes three to five weeks.

For more extensive tissue loss, a skin graft may be necessary. If bone is exposed, reconstructive flap surgery may be performed, which involves replacing the fat and blood vessels as well as the skin, according to the AAOS. Both of these are surgical procedures that take several weeks to heal.

If a large part of the fingertip has been cut off, the doctor might consider replantation, or surgical reattachment of the fingertip, states the AAOS. This procedure is most successful in children under the age of 6, and particularly in those under 2 years old. Replantation often allows a child's fingertip to continue growing normally.

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