In February 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an injectable treatment for Dupuytren’s disease, a contracture of the hand where the fingers cannot be fully extended.
Dr. Frederick N. Meyer, professor and chair of orthopaedics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, has performed upwards of 65 of the procedures. He is the only physician in the area to offer the novel treatment.
According to Dr. Meyer, Dupuytren’s disease is a relatively common syndrome that primarily affects men rather than women, as well as people of Scandinavian or Northern European ancestry or those with a family history. It is also more often associated with conditions such as diabetes and seizure disorders.
In Dupuytren’s disease, the tissues under the skin on the palm of the hand thicken and shorten so that the fingers cannot straighten. The new treatment involves the injection of a collagen-eroding enzyme into the affected collagen cord, which weakens the cord.
“Dupuytren’s disease is usually not painful,” Dr. Meyer said. “It develops over time and has a variable course.”
Although surgery has until recently been the standard treatment, Dr. Meyer, who specializes in hand surgery, said the complications are much lower with the injection.
“This procedure has radically changed how I now treat Dupuytren’s disease,” he said. “I’m really enthusiastic about the procedure, and patients absolutely love the results.”
According to Dr. Meyer, there are three main qualifiers for the injection. “There must be a palpable cord from Dupuytren’s disease and a contracture of about 30 degrees, which basically means that you are unable to lay your hand flat on a table,” he said. “In addition, patients must be off any blood thinners for up to seven days prior to the procedure.”
Dr. Meyer said the entire procedure is done in just a couple of office visits. “We do the injection one day and a manipulation at the next visit,” he said. “Post-op rehabilitation is only necessary if there is a severe contracture.”
“One of my patients was playing golf within a week of the procedure, which would not be possible if they had chosen surgery,” Dr. Meyer added. “With the injection, you are able to do what you want to do much sooner.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Meyer, call (251) 665-8200.