Surgeons have saved the hand of an injured factory worker from a near-certain amputation by burying it in his stomach.
A “pocket” was created in the belly of Carlos Mariotti, 42, and his injured left hand was put in this pocket and stitched up after covering the area with a protective skin flap, the Mirror reported.
Mariotti, who is from Orleans in south Brazil, had severely injured his hand while operating a machine at the plastic factory where he works. He lost two fingers and almost all the skin from his palm and back of the hand in the accident.
If this extreme step would not have been taken by the surgeons, Carlos’s exposed hand would not be able to survive the weeks it takes to heal this kind of a wound — the hand would have in all probability rotted away.
In this respect, the next 42 days are crucial for Mariotti. His hand will be kept inside his stomach for this duration so that healing can happen and new tissue and tendon can develop.
What has happened to Mariotti is described in medical parlance as a “de-gloving injury.”
A de-gloving injury is an injury where “an extensive section of skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, severing its blood supply. It is named by analogy to the process of removing a glove.”
Boris Brandao, the doctor who performed the surgery on Mariotti, explained to the Mirror why it was necessary to put the de-gloved hand in Mariotti’s stomach.
“This was a very large and delicate injury and the only place we could fit the whole hand was in the abdomen. Without this procedure, there would be a high risk of infection and the tissue and tendons would rot away. In order to keep the wounded hand alive, we opened the abdomen, took off the skin and put it inside the cavity to protect it. The patient’s hand must stay in the pocket for about 42 days to ensure it develops new tissue and tendon material which is capable of receiving a replanted skin graft.”
The doctors at Santa Otília Hospital, where Mariotti is admitted currently, have made it clear to him why his hand should be exactly where it is now for the next couple of weeks. Any change in location would mean trouble for the wounded appendage.
Mariotti told the Sun that the doctors have also instructed him to keep moving his hand gently around in the stomach so that it does not become stiff.
“It’s a really weird feeling trying to wiggle my fingers inside my body and creepy seeing my tummy protrude slightly as I prod around,” he said. (It may remind a few readers of this scene in Ridley Scott’s Alien.)
Recalling the incident to the Sun, Mariotti said he was alone on the factory floor when the accident happened.
“It was like watching a movie play out in front of me. I saw the machine pulling my hand in and couldn’t do anything about it,” he said.
Mariotti’s initial screams didn’t elicit any response as nobody was around, so Mariotti took it upon himself to do the deed: he wrenched out his hand from the machine himself, losing his index and middle fingers in the process.
According to Dr. Brandao, Mariotti may never be able to regain the full function of his left hand.
“Mr Mariotti will suffer impaired function as he will not get all the movement back in his hand. But he will have a working hand and will be able to do the pincer movement. At least this is a better quality of life compared to having an amputated hand.”
Mariotti, on his part, is thankful his hand got saved from amputation, joking that now he just has to remember to “keep my hand in my pocket.”
[Image via Shutterstock]