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Extra Fingers and Toes (Polydactyly)

What is Polydactyly? (Extra Finger or Toe)

The medical term for having an extra finger or toe is polydactyly (pol-ee-dak-tuh-lee). The term literally means “extra digit.”

Usually, a child has the extra digit next to the thumb, big toe, little finger or little toe.


The extra digit may range from a small bump to a fully – developed, working finger or toe. Most often, it’s smaller than the other digits and not well formed.


The extra digit may be connected by skin, muscle or bone. Your baby’s healthcare provider may take an X-ray to see how much bone is involved. This determines how or if surgery is needed.

Extra Digits:

  • Are fairly common and often run in families
  • Can occur alone or as part of a genetic syndrome


The timing of surgery varies depending on the deformity. A child born with a very small extra digit can be treated at a very young age, before they are 3 months old in the clinic with a numbing medication. If the child is older than 3 months or if the extra digit is more complex you may have to wait until the child is a bit older and can safely be taken to the operating room for a general anesthesia.

Long-term outcome

If polydactyly in the foot is not treated, the child may have a problem fitting into a shoe. With or without treatment, the hand or foot usually works normally. With treatment, the hand or foot can look closer to normal.

Contact Us

Call Cincinnati Children’s at 513-636-7181 if you have questions or concerns.

Last Updated 11/2022

Reviewed By Ann Schwentker, MD

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