A New Surgical Tip for Fingers with Raynaud'sWhen the small blood vessels of the hands tighten up and close off, the blood supply can get cut off to the fingers. These spasms come and go in response to cold temperature or strong emotion. This condition is called Raynaud's disease. When this problem occurs as a result of another disease, it's called Raynaud's phenomenon.
Patients with Raynaud's commonly suffer from pain and loss of function. Sometimes they can't even reach inside a refrigerator without gloves to protect their fingers. The loss of blood to the fingertips can cause ulcers to form. Patients who depend on their hands for work may be forced to change jobs.
Treatment for Raynaud's varies from patient to patient. Sometimes physical therapy, acupuncture, and drugs help. Creams applied to the skin to open the blood vessels can be used. In cases that don't respond to these methods, surgery may be needed.
Cutting the nerve to the arteries that bring blood to the area may be an option. The outermost layer of the blood vessel is stripped away. This layer is called the adventitia. This works because it removes the nerve control that is causing the arteries to go into spasm.
There is help for patients with Raynaud's and ulcers that don't heal. The arteries just above the wrist can be stripped of their outer covering and the nerves to these vessels cut. The result can be relief from pain and freedom from having to wear gloves. Researchers suggest that this operation is best for patients with finger ulcers from Raynaud's disease that don't heal.
Brigitta Balogh, MD, et al. Adventitial Stripping of the Radial and Ulnar Arteries in Raynaud's Disease. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. November 2002. Vol. 27A. No. 6. Pp. 1073-1080.
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