POLYDACTYLY is the congenital presence of more than five toes on a foot or more than five fingers on a hand.
It is one of the most common congenital anomalies of the foot. In about 40 to 50 per cent of cases, it will occur on both feet.
Polydactyly has a higher incidence in people of African descent and a higher incidence in men. The extra digit may be fully functional and well formed, in other cases it may be rudimentary or incomplete.
In most cases this condition occurs in isolation, however, there may be an underlying syndrome combined with other congenital skeletal and visceral anomalies. Polysyndactyly is a variation on polydactyly where the extra toe is confirmed within a single envelope of skin.
If there is an underlying syndrome or condition this should be dealt with accordingly. The usual treatment is to surgically remove the extra digit when the patient is about a year old. This will minimise the effect on development and walking.
If the extra digit is not removed, the biggest challenge is finding appropriate footwear that does not irritate the toe.
The outcome of surgery is usually very positive and rarely has complications. Surgery in patients who have extra fingers is not as common due to the fact that hands don't have to be walked on or put into shoes, however, some will choose to remove it for cosmetic reasons.
Angela Davis BSc (Hons) DPodM MChS is a podiatrist with offices in Montego Bay (293- 7119), Mandeville (962-2100), Ocho Rios (974-6339), Kingston (978-8392), and Savanna-la-Mar (955-3154). She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom.