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Suture Ligation of Supernumerary Digits and 'Tags': An Outmoded Practice?

Ilona J. Frieden, MD; Mary Wu Chang, MD; Irene Lee, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(11):1284. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170240102021.
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Rudimentary supernumerary digits and preauricular skin "tags" are relatively common congenital abnormalities. These abnormalities can present as isolated occurrences or as part of a syndrome. Isolated polydactyly occurs in approximately 0.3 of 1000 live births in white populations and from 3.6 to 10 of 1000 live births in black populations.1,2 Preauricular tags are also relatively common anomalies. Little attention has been paid to the treatment of these lesions, but pediatricians are commonly taught to ligate the base of these lesions with suture material as a simple, inexpensive form of removal. We recently saw a patient in whom a secondary bacterial infection developed after suture ligation of a supernumerary digit (Figure), prompting us to reevaluate this technique and consider the potential problems inherent in this traditional form of treatment.

Suture ligation of the base of supernumerary digits and preauricular skin tags is a commonly practiced technique in pediatrics. Although documentation

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