Microvascular replantation is the surgical reattachment of a body part that has been cut from a person's body through traumatic injury. The surgery involves repairing the body's tiniest blood vessels to restore blood flow to an extremity, like an arm, finger or foot. Replantation surgeons aim to return function to amputated or partially amputated body parts.
Denver Health provides Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region with exceptional patient service and we are the ONLY 24/7 hand microvascular replant in Eastern Rocky Mountain States.
What is Hand Reattachment Surgery?
The hand contains several essential structures that are on the microscopic level, such as nerves and blood vessels. You have probably heard about orthopedic doctors getting involved when a bone is broken in your arm, hand or finger, but whenever blood vessels and nerves in the hand are injured, it is necessary to bring in a specialist who is trained to make the necessary repairs under a microscope. The doctor’s goal is to restore blood flow by repairing the body’s blood vessels. Microvascular hand surgery often uses sutures which are thinner than a human hair.
These types of surgeries can be very long, lasting up to 10 hours, and require not only the surgical specialists to be successful, but also highly trained operating room technicians and nurses.
Examples of Hand Microvascular Surgery
Patients who need microvascular surgery or hand reconstruction / reattachment surgery often arrive at Denver Health after being flown here on a helicopter from all over the eastern Rocky Mountain Region. Over the past five years, more than 120 hospitals have referred patients to Denver Health for limb salvage or to have a body part reattached, from as far away as Montana, South Dakota, Kansas and New Mexico. Some examples of severe hand injuries treated through microvascular surgery or hand reconstruction surgery include:
- Injuries caused by cancer
- Severe, deep cuts to the hand that go into the nerve
- Hand and finger amputations
- Having a hand or arm crushed to the point where the blood flow is interrupted
- Nerve damage caused by too much pressure or stress on the arm or hand (brachial plexus)
- A young woman who had her arm amputated in a car accident two years ago and now has full use of her hand for all activities
- A child who had her hand crushed in a car accident and needed tissue reconstruction and now has no pain and has since started playing the piano again
- A man who cut off his thumb in a log splitter and had it successfully replanted and regained all function
- Mike Maloney, profiled in this video about how he ran his thumb through a saw while building longboards – and another finger a separate time – regrew his thumb and finger both times and returned to full function through a procedure called granulation or secondary wound healing, requiring very little surgery
Denver Health's Hand Surgery Team
Denver Health's microvascular team includes Alexander Lauder, MD, who specializes in orthopedic hand replantation surgery, Stephanie Malliaris, MD, specializing in plastic hand microvascular surgery, Matthew Folchert, MD, and Dr. Ipaktchi, who oversees the team. Corinne Wong, MD, Denver Health's expert plastic microvascular surgeon, also works with this team on a regular basis.