Fatty Tissue Transfer Improves Finger Osteoarthritis Symptoms

The transfer of fatty tissue to arthritic finger joints is a safe and promising alternative treatment to conventional surgical procedures, according to a study published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Max Meyer-Marcotty, MD, PhD, from the Clinic for Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery/Hand Surgery at Klinikum Lüdenscheid in Germany, and colleagues injected autologous fatty tissue into 28 finger joints with osteoarthritis among 18 patients. Hand function was evaluated over an average follow-up period of 44 months.

The researchers found that median force of pinch grip rose significantly from 2.00 kg to 4.30 kg, while the median force of fist closure rose from 15.00 kg to 18.00 kg. There was nonsignificant improvement observed in median Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand value (from 50 to 25). There was highly significant improvement seen in the median level of pain experienced, from 6.0 to 0.5.

“The chance to preserve the joint with a minimally invasive procedure is of particular interest in the early, albeit painful, phases of finger osteoarthritis,” Meyer-Marcotty said in a statement. “Since the lipofilling procedure is nondestructive, conventional joint surgery can still be performed later, if needed.”