Poland’s syndrome

This page explains about the causes, symptoms and treatment of Poland’s syndrome, from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

What is Poland’s syndrome?

Poland’s syndrome is a very rare condition that is characterised by webbing of the fingers and of underdevelopment of chest muscle.

It usually affects one side of the body.

Plastic surgery

At the time of the operation the plastic surgeon will be able to release the fingers, which in turn should naturally resolve any curvature problems.

While there is not much that will help at this stage, there will be things people can do after the operation to help their child gain movement and flexibility in their fingers. 

Symptoms and causes

Other symptoms can include shorter than usual fingers, and problems with the digestive tract.

It’s not known exactly what causes this condition. The most popular theory is that it could be linked to a problem with blood supply around the end of the second month of gestation.

Why do the fingers curve?

It’s likely that the index finger and middle finger that are currently joined are of different lengths. The middle finger will be a bit longer than the index finger.

As the fingers grow, this discrepancy in length can cause the fingers to bend inwards. This curvature can be especially pronounced if the fingers are joined right from the tips.

Massage helps

We will provide plenty of information about exactly what the surgery involves, and how to care for you child afterwards.

One really important aspect of aftercare is massaging the child's fingers – and this is something parents may well be able to help with as the child will need to have their fingers massaged carefully at least once a day. A simple, non-perfumed moisture cream that will not irritate the skin around the scar tissue should be used.

Strengthening fingers

The aim of the massaging is to keep the scars soft and long, so the skin does not contract. This will give the child the maximum amount of movement and flexibility in their fingers.

Staff on the ward show families exactly how to do this following their child's surgery.

Looking forward

The operation should resolve curvature of the child's fingers and should give them the ability to move them comfortably and easily.

They will naturally achieve a full range of movement in their fingers over time.

Last review date: 
January 2010

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