Five-finger, partial hand reattachment surgery successful at Norfolk hospital
By Kimberly Foley. CREATED Aug 13, 2014
*Warning: Graphic images*
Norfolk, NE - It was a marathon surgery that brought hospital staff in Norfolk their biggest challenge. They successfully took it on to save a patient and her hand.
"Five fingers is kind of an urban legend," said Dr. Tristan Hartzell, an upper extremity surgeon at Faith Regional Health Services. "They rarely come up. Hands come up back here, but this level where you have to really attach everything to all five fingers, rarely comes up."
On July 24th, medics brought a woman, who did not want to be identified, to the hospital after an industrial accident.
All five of her fingers and part of her hand were cut off by a blade.
Dr. Hartzell was the man with a solution.
About four hours after coming in, the patient went into the operating room. A medical team was in there for 17 hours and successfully reconnected part of her hand and all five fingers.
"We first assist helping put all the parts back together," said physician assistant Amy Jorgensen. "We go under the microscope and help suture in the nerves, the arteries and the bypass grafts."
Dr. Hartzell said this successful surgery makes a strong statement about Faith Regional, their staff and the services this facility here in Norfolk can provide.
"There are many, many situations that Omaha and Lincoln are much better suited for," said Dr. Hartzell. "These sort of situations, where we have all the specialists we need as far as physicians and nurses, can be handled here."
Dr. Hartzell said the patient will never be able to do fine movements like putting in earrings, but with physical therapy and possibly more surgeries, she will get some mobility back.
"Despite a devastating industrial accident, the sensation is what is impressive," he said. "They get very good sensation. Then, we shoot for a hand that opens up and closes."
The first phase of recovery requires the patient to go to physical therapy 4-5 times a week.
After a few months, the number of visits will decrease.
She will most likely require more surgeries in the future. Doctors estimate it could take a year or two to get back to near-normal.