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The Catalyst

MUSC Hand and Microsurgery program on the rise

By Cindy Abole
Public Relations

When it comes to receiving specialized treatment in all urgent and non-urgent needs of the hand, wrist and elbow, patients can look to a new program for a specialized level of care.

MUSC’s Hand and Microsurgery program, in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, offers a comprehensive and experienced team approach.

Lake City native Leverne Feagins knows it well and is one of dozens of local and statewide patients who’ve counted on that expertise, especially during one day in January 2012.

Six months after slicing his left thumb off during a circular saw accident and having a six-hour replantation procedure, Lake City native Leverne Feagins has full range of motion back and is recovering well.
Six months after slicing his left thumb off during a circular saw accident and having a six-hour replantation procedure, Lake City native Leverne Feagins has full range of motion back and is recovering well.

Winter months are typically a slow time for the 46-year old construction worker. Feagins, a bricklayer by trade, was working on a home project when the circular saw he was using suddenly kicked back on him and cleanly sliced off his left thumb between the joint and base. Startled but reacting quickly, Feagins picked up his thumb, wrapped a cloth tight around his hand and was quickly rushed by family to Carolinas Urgent Care in Lake City.

After stabilizing their patient, physicians consulted with Milton B. Armstrong, M.D., a hand surgeon and chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery. Armstrong made arrangements to transfer the patient to MUSC.

“I didn’t think they could do anything for my situation. I thought, ‘Go ahead; let’s give them a chance.’ What they did to save my thumb was pretty amazing,” said Feagins, who underwent an almost six-hour finger replantation procedure with Armstrong and his team. He stayed at MUSC for a week before being discharged to recover at home.

Armstrong evaluated Feagins to recheck his thumb’s blood circulation and sensibility in the months that followed. By August of that year, he was working with occupational therapists in Florence on his range of motion.

Accidents like Feagins' happen more often than people think. South Carolina is home to farming and manufacturing where people work daily with machines. According to Armstrong, accidents with table saws and similar home tools occur regularly and can happen at any time of the day and week. Armstrong and his team are on call to respond and consult on emergency hand cases or treatment of a variety of hand disorders and conditions. These include fractures and dislocations of the hand, wrist and elbow; nerve, blood vessel or tendon injuries; carpal tunnel syndrome; trigger finger; rheumatoid and osteoarthritis; congenital hand conditions; replantation of amputations and many other diagnoses.

To see more photos of Feagins' thumb, click here.

Warning: Photos are graphic.

Armstrong, who joined MUSC in 2009, is quick to point out that plastic surgery not only includes cosmetic surgery, but also surgery of the head, neck and trunk, as well as a focus on reconstructive problems. The division’s faculty possess additional expertise in hand and microsurgery, complex reconstructions caused by trauma, cancer and congenital malformations.  Armstrong’s background includes plastic surgery training at Tulane University Medical Center and a hand surgery fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.

Six months after slicing his left thumb off during a circular saw accident and having a six-hour replantation procedure, Lake City native Leverne Feagins has full range of motion back and is recovering well.
Dr. Milton B. Armstrong and his team performed a six-hour replantation procedure on Leverne Feagins. This photo was taken six months after the surgery.

“For decades, the public has had a pigeonholed view of plastic and reconstructive surgery to be connected to cosmetics and facial surgery and enhancement work. In reality, today’s plastic specialists are highly trained surgeons who receive comprehensive experience through their training and fellowships. In building up MUSC’s program, we’ve established a good cadre of people who can meet the needs of our patients both locally and throughout the state as well as the demands of this institution,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong’s priority is the program. In the past two and a half years, the division added three hand fellowship-trained plastic surgeons -- Kevin Delaney, M.D., Fernando Herrera, M.D., and M. Lance Tavana, M.D. Delaney completed his plastic surgery training at The Ohio State University Medical Center with a hand surgery specialization at the University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital. Herrera completed a plastic surgery residency and hand surgery-microsurgery fellowship at UCLA. Tavana completed a plastic surgery residency at the University of South Florida and hand surgery fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Hand and Upper Extremity Center.

The division’s surgeons are finalizing plans to establish outreach centers for hand surgery in the Tri-county area.

For information, call 792-5346 or visit http://www.muschealth.com/plasticsurgery.

April 24, 2013
 
 
 

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