They Were Going to Amputate This Finger Before PRP!

by Chris Centeno, MD /

Several months ago a patient I was seeing for another issue showed me the results of her finger-fusion surgery to treat arthritis. As she unwrapped her finger, I was a bit startled by its appearance (left above). It had the classic “mummy finger” dry-gangrene look, and her surgeon wanted to amputate it. She asked about whether PRP or stem cells could help, and I said I could try some PRP but I didn’t have high hopes. I was wrong.

Finger-Fusion Complications

If finger joints hurt, especially at the tip of the finger, one possible solution is to insert a piece of metal and fuse the joint straight. This is a big surgery for a little joint and one of the possible complications is shown above. Basically, the tip of this patient’s finger was dying.

How Could PRP Help?

By the time we began PRP, the patient’s finger was in the nonhealing-wound stage. She had an open wound that was making no progress toward healing. The doctor wanted to amputate the end of the finger as the solution. How could PRP help?

PRP is short for platelet rich plasma, or concentrated platelets in plasma. These platelets can degranulate (release) growth factors that include VEGF, which can create new blood vessels. Often wounds aren’t healing because there is a poor blood supply, so new blood vessels may help the wound heal. Other growth factors that are released include TGF-beta and FGF, which can help grow new tissue.

The Result?

After the first PRP injection showed some healing, we were talking with the patient about injecting stem cells into the bone as despite a negative culture, the surgeon suspected an occult bone infection. However, we never had to go there. After a few PRP injections, the nonhealing wound closed, and she can now place weight on the finger in activities like yoga. So the amputation has been canceled!

The upshot? Regenerative medicine never ceases to amaze me. It’s amazing that just a few injections of the right stuff prevented this woman from losing a chunk of her finger. The surgical community needs to stop practicing like it’s 1985 and get on board the regen-med train, as now I wonder how many amputations don’t need to happen!

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4 thoughts on “They Were Going to Amputate This Finger Before PRP!

  1. Phyllis Gronski

    My mother lost a leg as a complication to heart surgery, and eventually her life because of gangrene, but I questioned, “WHY did her medical doctor refuse to try alternatives for circulation support, like leeches or angiogenics to help create new bloodflow.” Sometimes, trying ANY defense, even an old one, like leeches, is superior to going down without a fight.

    1. Matthew Hyzy

      We are sorry for your loss and offer condolences.
      Thank you for sharing
      Cordially,
      Dr. Matthew Hyzy

  2. Dane

    Looks like you can add gangrene to the list of treatable conditions! This makes me wonder what else can be fixed without surgery? For example, I had surgery for an inguinal hernia 10 years ago, which was successful. I have a “crease” along the scar, which I suspect might be a defect in the fascia where they cut through, but the hernia has never recurred. I recently saw one of those malpractice attorney commercials about side effects from hernia mesh and it reminded me of this. I’ve wondered what my options would be if I ever tore the mesh, aside from revision surgery. I’ve read that hernias can be treated with prolotherapy if they’re small enough, although a mesh tear would probably be more complicated than a first-time intervention. Have Regenexx docs ever fixed hernias before?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Dane,
      There are other causes of groin pain besides a hernia, some of which are: the hip joint which usually refers pain to the front groin area , Athletic Pubalgia (which means groin pain due to sports) https://regenexx.com/blog/athletic-pubalgia-surgery/, an unstable SI joint, issues with the psoas muscle, all of which we can treat without surgery. Most of the types of meshes used for Hernia repair are propylene, polyester or teflon, though some do contain titanium…perhaps that was the culprit.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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