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July 14, 1978

Medical News

JAMA. 1978;240(2):89-98. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290020011001

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Shortened digits can be stretched to normal length with new technique  A Washington, DC, hand surgeon says he has developed a technique that makes prehension possible in hands that previously could not have been reconstructed because of the severity of the hypoplasia.This new distraction technique, also successful following the amputation of digits, triples or quadruples the amount by which digits (or entire hands) can be lengthened without appreciable loss of sensation, Norman J. Cowen, MD, chief of hand surgery at Georgetown University, told MEDICAL NEWS in an exclusive interview.Like other distraction techniques, it still makes use of bone grafts after some stretching of the skin, nerves, blood vessels, and whatever bone already is present in the deformed area. "But the stretching far exceeds the lengths previously thought possible," says Dr Cowen, who believes the technique holds special promise for some congenital hand defects.Despite mechanical and cosmetic