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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Congenital Hand Differences

Overview | Conditions | Referrals

What are Congenital Hand Differences?

Congenital hand conditions are differences (anomalies) in the hand and arm that occur when a child is developing before birth. 

The anomaly may occur by itself or can be associated with problems with other body systems. The musculoskeletal (bones and muscles), cardiovascular (heart, arteries and veins), craniofacial (head and face) or neurological (brain, spinal cord and nerves) systems are most commonly involved. When a hand anomaly is part of a syndrome, a geneticist and/or other specialists may be involved with the child's care. Congenital hand anomalies may have genetic, environmental or unknown origin.

There are many different types of congenital hand conditions. Some of the more common anomalies include:

    • having more or fewer than five fingers
    • fingers that will not bend or will not straighten
    • fingers that are joined together
    • bones in the hand or arm that are too short or missing

Below you will see a list of some of the more common anomalies organized into their classification groups. 

To learn more about a specific condition and the treatment options

Conditions - What does your child's hand look like?  

The Congenital Hand Differences Parent Information Pamphlet (pdf), offers facts and treatment options around various types of hand differences, as listed:

Failure of formation of parts:
Congenital Amputation: Amputation (loss) of arm
Radial Ray Anomaly: Absent or underdeveloped radius bone
Ulnar Ray Anomaly: Absent or underdeveloped ulna bone
Cleft Hand: Absence of central part of hand
Symbrachydactyly: U-shaped underdevelopment of hand with short fingers

Failure of differentiation of parts:
Syndactyly: Fingers are fused together
Camptodactyly: Abnormal bending of middle joint of finger
Clinodactyly: Bending of finger towards the side
Symphalangism: Stiffness of finger in any joint
Arthrogryposis: Abnormal shortening (contracture) of joint tissues

Polydactyly: Extra fingers

Hypoplastic Thumb: Under development or absence of thumb

Macrodactyly: Enlargement of finger(s)

Congenital Constriction Band Syndrome:
Constriction Band Syndrome: Ring-like tightening of skin often causing amputations

Generalized Skeletal Deformities:
Madelung's Deformity


How to make a referral

Referrals to the Congenital Hand Clinic can be made from Community Paediatricians, Family Physicians and Plastic Surgeons. All patients require a referral to visit our clinic. 

See the Referring a Patient page for details.

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