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If you love doing Sudoku puzzles, you know how one wrong number can throw off the whole table. In a similar way, one gene in your DNA can have repercussions for your entire development. This is what happens with toe deformities like syndactyly and polydactyly— webbed toes and extra toes.

Syndactyly happens when the digits fail to separate in an embryo at about six and eight weeks, and is often part of an underlying genetic syndrome that also causes other problems. The condition is graded as a simple (small webbed area at the base of the toes), complete (entire toes are joined), or complex (also involving muscles, tendons, nerves and/or bones) deformity.

Polydactyly may be discovered in an ultrasound during pregnancy during the early months. It is sometimes just a one-time event with no other symptoms, but it is related to a number of genetic diseases as well. It can also be passed on as a family characteristic due to one specific gene that causes a 6th digit to form. The toe can be fully formed and functional, or it can be just a small stump with no bones or muscles that is attached by a stalk.

If extra toes and webbing occur simultaneously, it is referred to as polysyndactyly.

Correcting a mild case can be fairly easy. A small extra stump can be tied much as an umbilical cord is clamped, and the extra tissue dries up and falls off. Webbing that involves mainly skin is also fairly easily corrected with minor surgery. We will advise you about home care following the procedure.

However, when the deformity involves bone or other soft tissue and nerves, a full surgical procedure is needed to remove the extra digit or separate the toes. That’s when you want experts like our team at Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists helping your child. Our work with all types of pediatric foot deformities is becoming well known in the Saddleback Valley, and we would be honored to have you trust your child’s feet to our care.

Our office in Ladera Ranch, CA can be reached by dialing (949) 364-9255 (WALK) to set up your appointment. We serve patients from Irvine to San Clemente and Newport Beach to Rancho Santa Margarita and beyond, and you can contact us using our online form. We will correct these abnormalities to help your child’s foot look and function better.