Tetanus following replantation of an amputated finger: a case report
Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, National Nagasaki Medical Center, 1001-1 Kubara 2, Ohmura City, 856-8562, Japan
Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:343 doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-343Published: 8 October 2012
Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by tetanus toxin produced by Clostridium tetani and induces severe neurological manifestations. We treated a patient who developed tetanus during hospitalization for replantation of an amputated finger. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published case report of such an entity.
A 49-year-old Japanese man had an amputation of his right middle finger at the distal interphalangeal joint region in an accident at work. His middle finger was successfully replanted, but his fingertip was partially necrotized because of crushing and so additional reconstruction with a reverse digital arterial flap was performed 15 days after the injury. Tetanus developed 21 days after replantation of the middle finger, but symptoms remitted via rapid diagnosis and treatment.
In replantation after finger trauma with exposure of nerve and blood vessel bundles, concern over injuring nerves and blood vessels may prevent irrigation and debridement from being performed sufficiently; these treatments may have been insufficiently performed in this patient. It is likely that the replanted middle finger partially adhered, and Clostridium tetani colonized the partially necrotized region. Even when there is only limited soil contamination, administration of tetanus toxoid and anti-tetanus immunoglobulin is necessary when the fingers are injured outdoors and the finger nerves and blood vessels are exposed. The drugs should be administered just after replantation if the finger has been amputated. However, if clinicians pay attention to the possibility of tetanus development, treatment can be rapidly initiated.