Predictors of successful outcomes in first web space contracture release

Derek L. Masden, James P. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The success of a first web space contracture release is dependent on the individual parameters of thumb movement. Examining these parameters individually, it is possible to predict which components are important for providing successful outcomes. Methods: We identified all patients who underwent a first web space contracture release over 7 years. Patients were examined for the following: radial abduction-abduction of the thumb in the plane of the hand; palmar abduction-abduction of the thumb 90° to the plane of the hand; and opposition-distance between first and fifth palmar digital crease. Measurements were compared between affected and unaffected hands, and correlations between components and patients' Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) scores were determined. Results: Thirty-nine patients underwent release of a first web space contracture; 11 agreed to participate. Opposition distance was significantly greater in the affected hand than in the unaffected hand. Grip strength was significantly lower in the affected hand. There were no significant differences in the radial or palmer abduction angles between hands. There was a moderate relationship between opposition distance and DASH score. There was no relationship between DASH and the other physical measurements. Conclusions: It is possible to obtain normal radial and palmar abduction angles after first web space release; however, success is not dependent on these absolute angles of abduction. Success of a release is related to the amount of opposition obtained, and it is difficult to achieve equivalent opposition to the unaffected hand. Grip strength and opposition remain decreased following contracture release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Contracture release
  • DASH
  • Grip strength
  • Thumb
  • Web space contracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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