Surgeons in China have restored the use of a hand severed in an industrial accident by grafting it onto a man’s ankle for a month before re-attaching it to his arm.
The groundbreaking surgery was carried at at Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in central China.
A worker, named only as Mr Zhou, lost his left hand when it was completely severed by a spinning blade machine at the factory where he worked.
The injuries to his arm were so severe that the surgical team, headed by Dr Tang Juyu of Xiangya Hospital, believed time had to be allowed for nerves and tendons to heal.
Surgeons carry out the operation
But the delay would have meant Mr Zhou would have lost the use of the hand.
“Under normal temperatures, a severed finger needs to resume blood supply within 10 hours, but that time is even shorter for a separated limb,” he said
“If a limb is short of blood for too long, its tissues die and it will be unsalvageable.”
An x-ray of mr Zhou’s hand after it was reattached
Instead the team attached Mr Zhou’s hand to his ankle, where it was “kept alive” for more than a month.
Then, in another operation lasting 10 hours, the hand was re-attached to his arm.
The patient can already move his fingers slightly, but more rehabilitation will be needed before he regains full use of his hand.
Chinese surgeons have previously re-attached a woman’s fingers following a work accident.