Injury: Hand Transplants

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about treating injuries. Previously, we discussed how accidentally severed fingers or toes can be reattached. But now it’s possible for patients who’ve lost hands in traumatic accidents to get new hands.

People may lose hands as a result of car accidents, serious burns or war-related injuries. Prosthetics allow them some function, but they are not like real hands. Dr. Tae Chong, a plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says hand transplants are the ultimate in reconstructive surgery, bringing about life-changing improvements. It takes a team of up to 15 surgeons 10 to 14 hours to transplant a hand. The procedure requires surgeons to attach tendons, blood vessels and nerves. There are more than 25 structures in the hand that have to be repaired so it will be functional. After the procedure, patients have to take anti-rejection medication and undergo extensive physical therapy.


September 2011

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