OHSU

Patient Story –Tiffani H.

Howard FamilyI crushed my finger between two boulders in March 2009. We were building a retaining wall, and each boulder weighed from 200 to 400 pounds. My right index finger was crushed and torn down to my first knuckle. I went to a local ER and was stitched up, but X-rays showed that the last phalanx (top part) of my finger was broken in half. The bones were completely out of alignment. I needed surgery in order to line up the pieces so they could heal.

A week later I had surgery, but it was not successful. After three months of healing, the tip of my finger was crooked, rotated at an angle and still very painful. I’m an artist, and I need to use my hands. I’m also a mom, and very active. I didn't want that crooked finger sticking out for the rest of my life – it was constantly getting bumped.

In October 2009, I saw Dr. Robert Orfaly, a hand specialist in the OHSU Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation clinic, and we discussed my options. I chose the riskiest option, which would give me mobility of the joint instead of having it fused. He straightened the finger, put in two pins and put my whole hand in a cast. I went off my pain meds in less than 48 hours after surgery. From being bent at a 25-degree angle, my finger is now perfectly straight. My hand feels great, and Dr. Orfaly removed the pins later that month.

The surgery was risky, and it took me quite a long time to decide to go forward, knowing I might lose all motion in the joint if the surgery went poorly. Now I feel confident that with rehabilitation, I’ll likely get back 75 percent of my flexion in that finger. It was a risky surgery that turned out great in the end, and I feel that was all due to Dr. Orfaly’s expertise.  I am very grateful.