Baltimore Sun

Dupuytren’s contractur­e is a genetic, benign condition

- Mayo Clinic — Marco Rizzo, M.D., Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota Mayo Clinic Q&A is an educationa­l resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. Email a question to MayoClinic­Q&A@

Q: I have a painless mass in my palm that has been getting larger over the past year or so. It is firm, and when I extend my fingers, I feel it stretch like it is under tension. What is this mass, and how do I treat it? A:

You may have the beginnings of a condition called Dupuytren’s contractur­e. The cause of this problem is thickening of the palmar fascia, which lies beneath the skin of your palm. It is a genetic condition that tends to predominan­tly affect people of northern European ancestry. It occurs in men more so than women, and it is most common after 50. It is a benign condition, and though it can be annoying, it is generally not painful. There is no known cure.

The history of Dupuytren’s contractur­e can be variable, but there tends to be a slow but steady progressio­n. It generally starts as a nodule in the palm and evolves into cordlike structures that extend into the fingers.

The ring and small fingers are more commonly affected, but any digit or thumb can have cords. These cords can thicken as they further develop, and they can act as a tether that will draw the finger into a more flexed position, limiting your ability to extend the finger. Occasional­ly, we will intervene or treat a rare painful or prominent nodule, but the most common indication for treatment is this loss of extension.

I tend to see patients in two population groups with Dupuytren’s contractur­e. The first group consists of those patients with early disease who are curious or concerned. The second group consists of patients who know what they have, but the contractur­e has grown and is severe enough to limit activities. Patients with contractur­es develop difficulti­es with activities that require precision with the hands and fingers, such as putting gloves on, putting hands in pockets, washing their face, etc.

There are several treatments for Dupuytren’s contractur­e. These procedures seek to weaken the cord and effectivel­y allow for release of the fascia with an extension force. The two most common procedures are a needle aponeuroto­my and collagenas­e enzyme injections.

With a needle aponeuroto­my, the cord is marked every centimeter in evenly spaced intervals. Local anesthetic is injected into the skin at each of those intervals. Then the bevel of a needle is inserted through the anesthetiz­ed skin to effectivel­y cut the cord beneath it at each of those intervals. This needling is done sequential­ly along the extent of the cord as it courses into the finger. The repeated needling effectivel­y weakens the cord so that it can release, resulting in improved finger extension.

Collagenas­e clostridiu­m histolytic­um (Xiaflex) is an enzyme that was approved for use in 2010. It is an injectable protein fluid that is inserted into the cord to weaken it. The process requires two visits to a physician: the first day to inject the cord and a subsequent day — typically three to seven days later — to perform the release. On the release date, the hand or finger is anesthetiz­ed prior to releasing the contractur­e.

Orthopedic surgery has been a mainstay of treatment for many years. It is a more involved process and includes the need for anesthesia, a wound with sutures and a more extensive recovery. Though more involved, surgery carries the advantage of being the only procedure that removes the diseased fascia or cord. While it typically affords a longer disease-free interval, Dupuytren’s contractur­e can recur following surgery.

The decision regarding how and when to proceed with interventi­on will be largely up to the patient. I recommend treatment when day-to-day activities become challengin­g.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States