An 87-year-old man from Texas recently suffered severe burns to the top of his left hand. His doctors believed the burn damage was so extensive that skin grafts, the most common treatment option for burn victims, wouldn’t be able to help.
Instead, his doctors tried an unorthodox treatment. Rather than a graft, they surgically placed the hand inside a pocket of tissue in the man’s abdomen. This let his hand receive a constant supply of blood to the damaged tissue. It also allowed his doctors to remove excess skin from the abdomen when the hand was removed, providing a layer of healthy tissue over the top of the patient’s hand. This hand treatment option created a tissue layer that was stronger and healthier than the grafts typically performed to treat serious burns.
Necessity and Innovation
When it comes to reconstructive surgery, the most obvious solution isn’t always the best one. While the Texas patient didn’t have a tummy tuck per se, it’s very likely that his hand was saved from amputation by the innovative strategy used by his surgeons. They say necessity is the mother of invention, an idea that has been particularly true in the medical field.
As our knowledge of the human body develops, doctors are improving their surgical techniques to provide better outcomes for their patients. Doctors often must tailor each procedure to the specific needs of each patient on whom they operate. This creates the need for creative problem-solving across the entire medical field, particularly when the patient’s life is at stake.
Fortunately for our 87-year-old patient, these unconventional techniques were put to use in a way that preserved both his hand function and overall quality of life.