This section deals with acute or recent injuries, ranging from a bruise or scrape to having the end of the finger taken off. Treatment of healed or nearly healed fingertip injuries is a different situation.
When portions of the fingertip are missing, the injury is usually described as a partial amputation. When the finger is cut more than halfway through, the injury may be described as a subtotal amputation.
Here are some of the more common types of fingertip injuries and what they are called by doctors:
•Distal phalanx tuft fracture
•Comminuted distal phalanx tuft fracture with subungual hematoma(blood under the fingernail
•Subtotal amputation with open fracture and nail bed injury
•Palmar oblique fingertip amputation with pulp los
Usually a cut or crush, caught in a door, window, gear, belt, saw, etc.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ice, elevation, and have it checked out by a doctor. If the injury involved a cut, medical evaluation is particularly important - to check whether or not a tetanus shot, antibiotics or other treatment is required, even if stitches aren't needed.
WHAT CAN A DOCTOR DO TO HELP?
The exact treatment really depends on the exact type of injury. Injuries may involve skin, bone, fingernail, or any combination, and treatment requires separate consideration of each. Whether it is an injury involving skin, nail or bone Dr. Kilaru can go over the best options for your situation when you meet with him.
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS TREATMENT?
The ordeal of recovery as well as the final result depends as much on the person as on the actual injury - two people with basically the same injury can have great differences in pain, stiffness, recovery time and final outcome. Early proper medical care is the best first step towards the best possible outcome.
In rare occasions, a completely amputated fingertip may just be sewn back on, either repairing the blood vessels (microsurgical replantation) or not (composite grafting). Unfortunately, this is usually not nearly as successful as might be expected, particularly in adults or when the tip has been crushed in a door. Even with microsurgery, only a disappointingly small percent of fingertip amputations are successfully replanted. Fortunately, there are many options other than replantation that hand surgeons can offer provides a satisfactory result.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU HAVE NO TREATMENT?
You may luck out and wind up with a pretty good result. However, if the injury really needs surgery, it's best to do it right away.