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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Congenital amputation

What is a congenital amputation?

A congenital amputation is the loss of the arm and/or hand due to incomplete development before birth.

What are the different types of congenital amputation?

Congenital amputations of the upper limb are classified by where the child’s arm stopped growing. The most common amputations are at the level of the mid-forearm, wrist, partial-hand and humerus bone. Forearm and wrist amputations usually affect only one side and are more common on the left.

How common is this?

One in 20,000 children are born with a congenital forearm amputation. One in 27,000 children are born with a congenital arm amputation.

Why does this occur?

This condition is not usually related to any other medical problems. It is thought that this condition is not genetically inherited. It is thought that congenital amputations are a result of bleeding or blood clots in the hand as it is developing before birth.

What are the treatment options?

baseball glove
adaptive prosthesis

Children with congenital arm amputations generally demonstrate excellent functional abilities. These children adapt well to daily living activities, schoolwork and sports. Artificial limbs that replace the absent portion of the limb are sometimes appropriate for these children. Other devices can be made to help the child perform daily activities with greater independence.

The Occupational Therapist and Plastic Surgeon will discuss this with you if this is appropriate for your child. Children from the Congenital Hand Clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children are referred to the Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Rehabilitation Centre for these services.

Surgery is rarely recommended for these children. Some children may require minor surgery to improve the fitting of the prosthetic.

2 prosthetic arms
myoelecrtic arms