What are potential complications of trigger finger (TF) surgery?

Updated: Apr 26, 2021
  • Author: Satishchandra Kale, MD, MBBS, MBA, MCh(Orth), FRCS(Edin), FRCS(Tr&Orth); Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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Answer

If the surgeon maintains a careful surgical technique, the incidence of complications should be low. [71] Potential complications of TF surgery include the following:

  • Tenderness over the site of the incision - This occurs quite frequently but usually settles on its own
  • Adhesions and subsequent stiffness - This may develop with excessive handling of the tendon or delayed postoperative mobilization
  • Digital nerve injury - Overall, this is extremely rare, even though the digital nerves lie within 2-3 mm of the midline; prompt repair or reconstruction is indicated in the event of this unfortunate complication; observation for suspected neurapraxia is appropriate; digital nerve transection is the most common complication reported after trigger thumb surgery; the radial digital nerve is injured more frequently because of its superficial location and oblique course over the flexor sheath
  • Superficial scoring of the FDS tendon - This has been reported frequently but does not require further treatment
  • Accidental cutting into the A2 pulley - This can cause bowstringing, with loss of full finger flexion; pulley exploration and reconstruction may be indicated if bowstringing does not resolve
  • Scarring - This is more likely to occur after TF surgery than after trigger thumb surgery
  • Recurrence - This has been reported but is extremely rare
  • Infection - This is a risk in patients who are diabetic or immunosuppressed and may be problematic if septic flexor tenosynovitis results

Research has shown no statistically significant differences in surgical complication rates between persons with diabetes and those without it. This was also found to be true when patients with type 1 diabetes were compared with individuals who had type 2 diabetes. [50]


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