Under certain circumstances an orthopedic surgeon can lengthen fingers using bone grafting, callotasis or a combination of both. Callotasis is a procedure in which the surgeon attaches a fixator with a turnbuckle design to the finger, and family members periodically turn a dial to lengthen the bone gradually.
Bone grafting to lengthen a finger is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon inserts a piece of bone into place. Before he does this, he may need to use fixator to make room for the bone graft. Surgeons use fixators on short bones, and when the patient or his family members turn a dial once or several times a day, the bone gradually lengthens. Usually it grows no more than 1 millimeter per day. The process is painless, and the surgeon continues the process until the bone is as long as possible.
Surgeons use these techniques for congenital or traumatic conditions in which the shortened fingers have a negative impact on function or appearance. Finger-lengthening procedures can also relieve fatigue that may develop in the hand and fingers due to short finger length. Skin infection is a common risk of callotasis, but oral antibiotics usually infections under control. If bone does not form as quickly or as fully as desired during callotasis, surgeons undertake additional procedures that may include bone grafting.