Children's Hospital Colorado

Clinodactyly in Children

What is clinodactyly?

Clinodactyly is when a finger or toe curves toward the finger or toe next to it, not up or down. Clinodactyly can happen in any finger or toe, but the most common type is when the small finger curves toward the ring finger. Clinodactyly may get worse with age.

An illustration of a hand with the pinky finger bent inward toward the ring finger. Next to it is a close-up illustration of the bent joint showing a triangular shaped growth plate called the delta phalanx that is causing the finger to bend.

What causes clinodactyly?

There may be a growth plate on one side of the bone that causes the bone to grow longer on one side than the other. The bone doesn't grow in the normal shape of a rectangle, but rather more like a triangle.

  • Clinodactyly might be a genetic condition (may be passed down in families).
  • Clinodactyly might be a part of a syndrome (a specific group of symptoms). About 35-70% of children with Down syndrome have clinodactyly.

How is clinodactyly diagnosed?

Clinodactyly is diagnosed by examination. Often, the doctor will order X-rays to look at the bones of the fingers/toes.

How is clinodactyly treated?

Most children with clinodactyly don't need surgery to fix the condition. Surgery is usually only done if your child can't use their hands normally.

If surgery is recommended:

  • The surgery will be done in the operating room under general anesthesia (the child is put to sleep).
  • Small cuts are made in the fingers to get to the bone.
  • A cut in the bone is made to straighten the bones of the fingers.
  • The fingers are put in the correct position. Small pins, wires or screws are used to hold the bone straight.
  • After surgery, the hand will be bandaged and most likely put in a cast.
  • Once the bandages are taken off, your surgeon might suggest working with a hand therapist.

Why choose Children's Colorado for your child's clinodactyly?

Our Hand and Upper Extremity Program team at Children's Colorado provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the care of your child. This means you have access to leading specialists from multiple departments who work together to treat your child.

Your child's care team includes pediatric experts from orthopedic surgery, physical medicine, rehabilitation, occupational therapy and nursing.