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Webbed toes
Classification and external resources

Human foot with partial simple syndactyly.
ICD-10 Q70.3
ICD-9 755.13
The feet of a gull showing webbed toes.

Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly affecting the feet. It is characterised by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. This is normal in many birds, such as ducks; amphibians, such as frogs; and mammals, such as kangaroos. In humans it is considered unusual, occurring in approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births.

There are various levels of webbing, from partial to complete. Most commonly the second and third toes are webbed or joined by skin and flexible tissue. This can reach either part way up or nearly all the way up the toe.

Contents

Diagnosis

This condition is normally discovered at birth. If other symptoms are present, a specific syndrome may be indicated. Diagnosis of a specific syndrome is based on a family history, medical history, and a physical exam.

Webbed Toes are also known as "Twin Toes" or "Ducky Toes" or "Quackers" "

Cause

The exact cause of the condition is unknown. In some cases, close family members may share this condition. In other cases, no other related persons have this condition. The scientific name for the condition is syndactyly, although this term covers both webbed fingers and webbed toes. Syndactyly occurs when apoptosis or programmed cell death during gestation is absent or incomplete. Webbed toes occur most commonly in the following circumstances:

It is also associated with a number of rare conditions, notably:

Consequences

Webbed toes in humans are a purely cosmetic condition. This condition does not impair the ability to perform any activity including walking, running, or swimming. There is no evidence that it improves swimming ability.

People with webbed toes may have a slight disadvantage for activities that benefit from prehensile toes.

Webbed toes eliminate the possibility of athlete's foot infections in the affected areas.

Psychological stress may arise from the fear of negative reactions to this condition from people who do not have webbed toes. This may lead some individuals to become extremely self-conscious about their feet and go to great lengths to hide them. They may avoid open-toed footwear and activities such as swimming where their feet may be seen. Others are very proud of their webbed toes and often wear uncovered toe gear to show off their unique toe structure. This is a harmless form of Narcissism. In some circles, syndactyly stimulation is a sexual fetish.

Surgery

Partial simple syndactyly before surgery
Partial simple syndactyly, 4 months post-op

Webbed toes can be separated through surgery. Surgical separation of webbed toes is an example of body modification.

As with any form of surgery, there are risks of complications.

The end results depend on the extent of the webbing and underlying bone structure. There is usually some degree of scarring, and skin grafts may be required. In rare instances, nerve damage may lead to loss of feeling in the toes and a tingling sensation. There are also reports of partial web grow-back. The skin grafts needed to fill in the space between the toes can lead to additional scars in the places where the skin is removed.

Famous webbed feet

References

  1. ^ "Soul survivor". http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2172314,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  2. ^ ""Among the Dead", MississippiReview.com". http://www.mississippireview.com/1999/0199jpjones.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ "Star Tracks (People magazine)". http://flickr.com/photos/scr/9580324/. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  4. ^ "Tricia Trivia". http://triciahelfer.com/blog/?page_id=261. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 

Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Li-Xing Man, M.Sc.; Benjamin Chang, M.D. "Maternal Cigarette Smoking during Pregnancy Increases the Risk of Having a Child with a Congenital Digital Anomaly." January 2006, pg. 301. Journal website

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