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How many Trigger Fingers Get Better if you Do Not Operate on them
Donald H. Lalonde, BSc, MSc, MD; Janice F. Lalonde
Dalhousie University, Saint John, NB, Canada

Introduction: Many of the patients we call to give a surgery date tell us their problem is resolved. Our long surgical waiting lists for this type of procedure provide us with significant numbers of patients who do get better before we can operate on them. It is important that surgeons know how many patients might get better in a given time period if they have no treatment. There is very little information in the literature about the natural history of untreated trigger fingers.
Materials & Methods: We looked at all of our trigger finger waiting lists both prospectively and retrospectively from the years 2004 to 2015. We documented how long it took between booking the patients for surgery and offering them a surgical date on the telephone. In addition to demographic data, we recorded which digits were involved and how many patients declined surgery because their problem had resolved without treatment.
Results: At the time of consultation in our office, we booked 287 patients for trigger finger release between 2004 and 2015. When we called them months after their consultation to offer them a surgical date, 141 of those patients accepted a surgical date and came for surgery. The other 146 of those patients declined to have surgery because their symptoms had improved without treatment. The average waiting time between consultation and surgical date offer in those patients who had surgery was 5.7 months in women and 7.7 months in men. The average waiting time between consultation and surgical date offer in those patients who did not need surgery was 7.3 months in women and months in 8.6 in men.
Conclusions: We found that approximately half of patients who have to wait over 6 months for trigger finger surgery get better without any intervention.

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