Children's Hospital Colorado


What is syndactyly?

Syndactyly is a condition that a baby is born with, in which fingers or toes are joined. It is the most common congenital (present at birth) hand difference.

What causes syndactyly?

This condition is caused when the fingers or toes don’t separate normally when the baby is growing in the mother’s uterus.

What are the types of syndactyly?

  • Complete: fingers or toes are joined completely the length of the finger or toe
  • Incomplete: fingers or toes are joined only part of the length of the finger or toe
  • Simple: the skin and other soft tissues like blood vessels and nerves are joined together
  • Complex: the skin, soft tissues like blood vessels and nerves and bone are joined together
A graphic illustration of a complete syndactyly with two fingers completely joined and an incomplete syndactyly with two fingers partially joined.

How is syndactyly diagnosed?

Syndactyly is diagnosed by examination, usually just after birth. Often, the surgeon will order X-rays to look at the bones of the fingers/toes.

How is syndactyly treated?

The treatment for syndactyly is surgery to separate the fingers/toes. If there are multiple fingers/toes affected, more than one surgery is usually necessary. Surgery is usually done when a child is older than age one.

What to expect if doctors recommend surgery

  • If surgery is necessary, the surgery will be done in the operating room under general anesthesia (the child is put to sleep).
  • Small incisions cuts are made on the sides of the fingers/toes.
  • Skin grafts (removing a patch of skin from one area of the body and attaching it to another area) may be necessary to close the areas completely.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for your child’s syndactyly?

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.