“Like the back of my hand.” This is what is often said about a person who is very well known. But what about those who have six fingers? Do we know them as well as the five-fingered ones? What are these people? Can they fully live in our society? How should they be and what methods of treating their features exist? 
Today we will try to study in detail these, in some way special, multi-fingered people.
So, let’s figure it out.


Polydactyly – multi-fingeredness; comes from the Greek “daktylos” (finger); means any presence of extra fingers on the limbs of people.
Many scientists believe that polydactyly itself is not a disease or a serious disorder, since children and adults with this anomaly quite successfully cope with all life tasks, like their peers with five fingers. But is it so, today we will find out.


Oddly enough, but the causes of polydactyly are not exactly established today. Doctors believe that this congenital deformity occurs at 5-8 weeks of embryogenesis and is due to an increase in the number of mesodermal cells.
Sometimes the development of polydactyly can be affected by such negative factors during pregnancy as: infectious diseases suffered by the expectant mother, poor living conditions, bad habits, exposure, and sometimes the use of drugs that are dangerous for a pregnant woman. If genetic tests do not confirm that polydactyly is hereditary, then it can be assumed that the disease is caused by the influence of the above negative factors.
These reasons can have a significant impact on the development of pathology around the 8th week of pregnancy, when bone tissue is laid in the fetus. Therefore, to prevent the development of polydactyly, it is important to exclude all these factors during the bearing of the baby. The causes of pathology can also be severe chromosomal abnormalities, genetic mutations and heredity.
Not so long ago, scientists proved that polydactyly in children can be the result of bad habits of two parents. It is known that if a mother smoked during pregnancy, then her risk of giving birth to a baby with six fingers is very high. It has also long been proven that if a woman has experienced severe and prolonged stress in the first three months of pregnancy, then the likelihood of having a child with developmental anomalies, including polydactyly, increases.


The main sign of polydactyly is the presence of additional fingers on the hands or feet of the child.


Doctors distinguish three types of polydactyly:

  1. Rudimentary, in which there are additional fingers, which at the same time consist of skin;
  2. The presence of additional fingers, which are a bifurcation of the main ones;
  3. The presence of full, normal shape and size of additional limbs.

In this case, polydactyly of the hand or foot happens:
– preaxial (radial) – from the side of the thumb,
– central and post-axial – from the side of the little finger.
It is important to note that the forms of preaxial and postaxial polydactyly are much more common in practice than the central one.


Polydactyly in humans most often manifests itself as a doubling of the little finger on the hand or as a second little finger. Thus, not five, but six fingers are formed on the hand. It often happens that the additional finger is not fully developed, it contains only three phalanges that extend from the sixth metacarpal bone. Often there are even one- and two-phalangeal sixth fingers. There is also such a manifestation of polydactyly as a skin appendage, inside which there are no bone formations at all.
With such a pathology, the motor functionality of the hand is significantly impaired – this occurs in the case of the development of an additional formation on the side of the thumb.


According to statistics, for the last 1,000 years, this pathology in the world has been found in people with a frequency of about 0.2%. Today, this phenomenon is quite common – one case in a thousand, while full-fledged polydactyly – when additional fingers are in no way inferior to “normal” ones – is extremely rare.


Yes, pathology is very often inherited, since polydactyly is a dominant autosomal trait. The probability of inheriting pathology from the father or mother is about 50%. Scientists have identified 4 genes that make fingers multiply.

Often patients ask: is it possible to predict polydactyly in a child? Scientists say it is quite difficult to predict whether a child will have polydactyly. The type of inheritance or gene transmission occurs according to an autosomal dominant type with a certain percentage. But there are exceptions when healthy five-fingered children are born to six-fingered people.


Polydactyly is an anatomical anomaly, and therefore diagnosing polydactyly is quite simple – the doctor only needs a visual examination of the patient, which, as a rule, is carried out even in the maternity hospital when examining a baby.
Examination, in addition to a physical examination of the child, may also include x-rays, ultrasound and MRI of the hand or foot, if necessary. Sometimes angiography is also done to evaluate blood flow.
Doctors pay special attention to a child with a history of various hereditary pathologies. In order to determine the location of the extra finger, or to distinguish the bone from the skin appendage, newborn needs to be x-rayed. You can do the whole complex of diagnostic measures for the detection of polydactyly in our medical center “Ladisten Clinic”.


By itself, isolated polydactyly does not pose additional threats to the body, but it is important to understand that it is polydactylism that often manifests itself as part of complex gene or chromosomal disorders.
For example, polydactyly can be a sign of Patau syndrome or trisomy 13. This means that in the human chromosome set in the 13th pair of chromosomes there is one extra chromosome (three instead of two). And this disease is characterized by multiple developmental disorders of internal organs and systems, including polydactyly.
The Rubinstein-Teibi syndrome is characterized by an anomaly in the development of the fingers, among which polydactyly is also found. This is due to a violation of the development of the entire skeletal system, the bone age is significantly behind the passport age, the bones of the facial skull are deformed, either the terminal phalanges of the fingers or the entire finger are doubled.
Also, polydactyly can be a sign of a genetic disease, which is expressed in a violation of metabolic processes. This is the Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, but it is extremely rare.
Scientists today know up to 120 syndromes, a sign of which is six or even more fingers on the hands.


To determine the exact methods of treatment, the attending physician needs to establish:
– The nature of the pathology. With hereditary polydactyly, the accessory finger departs from the fifth and is quite well developed. If we are talking about a birth defect, then the finger will be underdeveloped, in the form of one / several phalanges inside the skin protrusion.
The position of the extra finger of the hand, which can be pre-axial (between the ring finger and the little finger) or post-axial – behind the little finger.
– The presence of additional changes in the anatomy of the metacarpus or metatarsus, which can manifest itself in the form of additional bones, deformities of the joints, ligaments and tendons.
– Whether polydactyly is an independent anomaly or manifested as part of the syndrome. For this, other symptoms are evaluated and additional tests are ordered.
Only after that the exact method of treatment of the patient is chosen. When choosing a method for the surgical treatment of polydactyly, physicians, in addition to radiography, also conduct a study of the blood supply to additional fingers, since there are often cases when a large vessel feeds two partially separated fingers at once. Then removal without taking into account this feature can lead to subsequent circulatory disorders.
When all studies are completed, the operation is performed. Sometimes it is preceded by therapeutic treatment, but such cases are rare. 
Usually, the attending physician insists on the treatment of polydactyly at an early age, so most of these operations are performed in the first month of a child’s life.


In case of confirmation of polydactyly, treatment can only be surgical. If the extra finger has only soft tissues, then it can be removed within a month after the birth of the baby. In other cases, when the extra finger, in addition to soft tissues, has bones, joints and tendons, a reconstructive operation to remodel the hand or foot is usually done one year after the birth of the child.
During the operation, an additional finger or skin appendage is removed. It is necessary to perform an operation immediately after diagnosis, because the pathology can negatively affect the further psychological development of the child or affect fine motor skills and functionality of the limbs.
Sometimes the question may arise which of the fingers is better to remove – sometimes an additional thumb with good development is diagnosed. Then the one that is located on the outside of the brush is removed – it is easier to give it an aesthetic appearance.
Microsurgical correction of polydactyly, depending on its type, may have a different character, but bone, tendon and skin plasty of the limb is almost always required.


The outcome of the operation is almost always favorable, but it is very important to do it on time, then the child will be able to develop the motor skills of the limbs normally.


As a rule, when a person has worse hearing, he has better vision, and vice versa. This is a well-known axiom. But what is better in people with polydactyly?
So, according to the data obtained by British and Swedish scientists, people with polydactyly have more opportunities to perform this or that action, since such people have special parts of the sensorimotor areas of the brain.
To find out the extent of the unique abilities of people with polydactyly, the researchers conducted an experiment. They asked the participants to complete several behavioral tests, during which doctors monitored participants’ brain activity using MRI scans.

The results showed that the subjects’ extra fingers were moved by their own muscles. This allows people to move their “sixth fingers” as far as possible, independent of all other fingers.
Scanning the brains of the subjects, the scientists also observed increased activity in them. The movement of the additional finger was controlled by individual neurons, and the total number of areas involved in the work was greater than that of five-fingered ones.
Paradoxically, scientists have found that people with six fingers can perform movements with one hand that people with five fingers would need both hands for.
And even though the extra finger increases the degree of freedom that the brain has to manage, scientists have found no disadvantages compared to people with five fingers.
Based on the results obtained, scientists are already considering the possibility of developing additional prostheses for the development of human motor skills.


The most famous “mutant” with six toes on his left foot was Joseph Stalin, which few people know about. That is why he was called not only Koba and Mustachioed, but also Six-fingered. This physical deviation obviously had a very strong effect on a man like Stalin.
Similar psychological problems were experienced even by Marilyn Monroe, who had six fingers, but already on her right foot. It turns out that one of the most attractive and odious figures of recent centuries has gained its fame even despite such a rare disease.
Moreover, Joseph Dzhugashvili is not the only ruler who was lucky enough to be six-fingered. As history shows, six-fingered were also: Pope Sixtus II and Queen Anne Boleyn of England. Why not proof that this may not be a deformity, but is a special mark ?!
For example, in Russia before the revolution, there were entire villages of six-fingered people. There are many six-fingered people among celebrities. 
So, the singer Maxim was also born six-fingered – with two thumbs on her left hand. Other celebrities who have had this defect include James Bond and Prince of Persia star actress Gemma Arterton and Indian actor Hrithik Roshan.


The “record” of polydactyly was once set by the Indian boy Akshat Saxena. This baby had as many as 34 fingers: 7 on each hand and 10 on each foot. Part was later removed. The 34-fingered boy is now 12 years old and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the person with the largest number of fingers.
It is also interesting that the child does not have a single thumb either on his hands or on his feet. Akshat Saxena has already undergone several very complex operations to remove extra fingers.
Surprisingly, it is in India that children with polydactyly are born more often than in other regions, so this sign even appears as a separate item in police questionnaires.

If your child or loved ones suffer from polydactyly, we will be happy to help solve this problem! Polydactyly is not a sentence, come to our medical center and see for yourself!
You are always welcome!
Your Ladisten Clinic.

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