What is clinodactyly?

Clinodactyly is an abnormal appearance of a finger. It is most common in the little finger, or 5th finger. The joint closest to the nail bed is abnormally angulated toward the ring finger, or 4th finger. This is a minor congenital defect, and it does not get worse with age. Between 1%-20% of people are born with this condition.

What causes clinodactyly?

Clinodactyly is caused by a developmental defect in the bones of the finger. This defect causes the bone to make a wedge shape instead of a normal rectangle. 

Clinodactyly can be associated with many syndromes including Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, Fanconi anemia and others.

What are the symptoms of clinodactyly?

The symptoms are often mild and go unnoticed. Patients may notice a bend in the finger. If the joint is turned more than 45 degrees, movement of the 5th and the 4th fingers can be impaired.

How is clinodactyly diagnosed?

A doctor will take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination. Diagnostic procedures may include:

X-ray: a test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues on film.

What is the treatment for clinodactyly?

Treatment is aimed at improving function and cosmetic appearance. Specific treatment will be determined by a child's doctor based on:

• The child's age, overall health and medical history

• Extent of the disease

• The child's tolerance for specific procedures or therapies

• The opinion or preference

Often, no treatment is required. In severe cases, treatment may include (alone or in combination):

• Corrective surgery (if the condition interferes with hand function)

     o Closing, opening or reversing wedge deformities: These procedures remove a wedge-shaped piece of bone in order to re-create a normal rectangular-shaped finger bone.

     o Tendon, skin or soft tissue operations to release the tension on the joint.

Occupational therapy

Physical therapy

• Splinting

     o A device that is used temporarily to support or immobilize a limb that has a damaged joint or bone.

What is the long-term outlook for a child with clinodactyly?

Most children have no major deficits and function normally in society. Prognosis greatly depends on:

• The extent of the disease.

• Age and overall health of the child.

• The child's tolerance of specific procedures or therapies.

• New developments in treatment.