Amputated fingers or hands can often be reattached successfully. It is crucial to preserve the amputated part properly and bring it with the worker when he comes to the hospital or clinic. It is also vital to seek proper medical care without delay, as this improves the chances of successful hand or finger reattachment. Whether or not the part can be reattached depends on how badly it is injured. Clean cuts with a knife or high-speed narrow cutter can be reattached successfully at least 90 per cent of the time. When the finger is badly crushed or pulled off forcefully, there is a lower chance of success.
The amputated part should be cleaned carefully with sterile water or saline, wrapped in a piece of dry gauze and placed in a sealed waterproof plastic bag. The bag containing the part should then be placed in another bag containing ice. DO NOT PLACE THE AMPUTATED HAND OR FINGER PART IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH ICE OR ICE WATER! If there is a delay in bringing the worker to the hospital or clinic, the bag can be placed in a refrigerator until ready to leave. It MUST NOT be placed in the freezer!
Properly preserved amputated fingers and thumbs can be reattached up to 24 hours after the amputation. However, there is a better chance of success if the surgery is done within 6-12 hours. Surgery involves fixing the bone, repairing cut tendons, and microsurgical repair of cut blood vessels and nerves. This can take between 3-6 hours for each amputated finger, depending on the severity of the injury. After surgery, the reattached part must be monitored in the hospital for 3-5 days as blood clots can form in the repaired blood vessels, cutting off the blood supply to the part. Further surgery is urgently needed to remove these clots if they form.
Intensive hand therapy to regain sensation and motion in the reattached part is needed after surgery. Depending on where the finger or hand is amputated, it can take from 2-12 months of hand therapy to regain the maximum function.