According to reports, Chinese doctors have been able to save a man’s severed hand by grafting it on to his ankle.
The strange procedure was carried out after Xiao Wei’s hand was severed in an accident at work. The hand could not be reattached to the arm straight away and so the doctors stitched it to his left ankle and kept it alive by borrowing a blood supply from arteries in the patient’s leg.
The hand was finally able to be replanted back to its rightful place a month later.
Mr Wei’s doctors explain the injury saying: “His injury was severe. Besides ripping injuries, his arm was also flattened. We had to clear and treat his injuries before taking on the hand reattachment surgery.”
It is thought that Mr Wei will need to undergo several operations before he will regain full use of his hand.
Mr Cairaian Healy from the Royal College of Surgeons in England says that there are many reasons why a surgeon may not be able to reattach a hand straight away.
“The patient might not be fit enough for the surgery. It can take a skilled surgeon between 8 and 15 hours to reattach a hand.” So the key factor in such a case is to keep the hand alive so that it has a chance to be grafted at a later date.
He also says the “Chinese are pretty experienced in microsurgery.”
Let’s hope it’s a happy ending for Mr Wei and he makes a full recovery, as sadly not all replantations are a success.
[Images via Viva News]