What is arthroplasty for toe joint deformities?

Brian A. Weatherby, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Arthroplasty for toe joint deformities typically refers to what is called a “PIP joint arthroplasty,” a procedure that is done for correction of hammer and claw toe deformities. This surgery involves making an incision on the top of the toe joint nearest the foot and removing the end part of the first toe bone (condyles of the first phalanx). Thus, the surgeon is removing one side of that toe joint. By removing this part of the joint it relaxes the deformity and slightly shortens the toe. A K-wire or pin is then placed from the end of the toe across the surgery site for stability. There are newer toe implants available that sometimes do not necessitate the use of a K-wire. These, however, are only used when there is no other contracture present. Any patient undergoing hammer or claw toe correction should also be aware that they may necessitate an additional procedure to release a contracture present at the knuckle joint (MTP joint) or lengthen a contracted extensor tendon (tendon on the top of the foot/toe that pulls the toe up). This would require another separate incision on top of the knuckle joint and the pin that is placed in the toe would also be advanced across the knuckle joint into the metatarsal bone behind the foot.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.