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Congenital Trigger Thumb
Updated: Oct 4 2016

Trigger Finger Release of the Thumb

Preoperative Patient Care
Operative Techniques

Preoperative Plan


Template incision


Execute surgical walkthrough

  • describe key steps of the operation verbally to attending prior to beginning of case.
  • describe potential complications and the steps to avoid them

Room Preparation


Surgical instrumentation

  • basic hand set
  • loupe magnification


Room setup and equipment

  • setup OR with standard operating table
  • hand table


Patient positioning

  • supine with shoulder at edge of bed
  • place hand supine on hand table
  • add arm tourniquet placed high on upper arm with webril underneath

Transverse Incision


Identify the location of the incision

  • care should be taken to center the incision directly over the thumb flexor sheath which is pronated relative to the plane of the palm


Mark and make a 7 to 10 mm transverse incision at the palmar crease of the thumb metacarpophalangeal joint

  • the exact location of the incision depends on the location of the A1 pulley relative to the crease
  • in the thumb with fixed flexion posture, the proximal edge of the A1 pulley is immediately distal to the location of the palpable nodule when the IP joint is maximally extended
  • care should be taken to plan the incision directly over the thumb flexor sheath which is pronated relative to the plane of the palm
  • preserve the skin that is immediately adjacent to the digital nerves

Deep Dissection


Expose the A1 pulley

  • use blunt dissection to dissect through the subcutaneous tissue
  • the digital nerves do not need to be visualized as long as the transverse fibers of the pulley are very clearly visualized under loupe magnification
  • be aware of the crossing digital radial nerve

Open Release



Identify the distal and proximal edges of the A1 pulley


Release the pulley

  • use sharp dissection to incise the pulley longitudinally along its entire length


Identify and protect the oblique pulley


Complete the release

  • gently spread with blunt scissors in the proximal aspect of the sheath entering the thenar eminence
  • this release minimizes the incidence of recurrence


Test release

  • to ensure that release is adequate, the FPL should be visualized from the palm to the oblique pulley.
  • the thumb IP joint should have full ROM
  • Be aware of the crossing digital radial nerve and stay within the tedon sheath for this proximal release

Wound Closure



Irrigation and hemostasis

  • copiously irrigate the wound
  • infiltrate the wound with long acting anesthetic without epinephrine


Superficial closure

  • close with simple interrupted sutures
  • Absorbable suture such as 5-0 chromic or plain gut is ideal in the pediatric population



  • cover the wound with sterile gauze and several layers of bandage and tape to prevent the child from removing the bandage
Postoperative Patient Care
Private Note

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